Enjoy Your Engagement

As I’ve rambled on about before, I learned a lot in planning my wedding and would do lots of things different if I had a time machine. I don’t though, so let me pass on some tips to you! So many of the lessons I came away with after my wedding could come to one simple thing: I wish I had enjoyed my engagement, and the whole process, more. I get it: It’s super easy to get caught up in the details. You want to plan the BEST day ever and completely lose yourself while striving for a Pinterest perfect wedding. But it could come at a cost. Your sanity.

Save yourself from an embarrassing meltdown like I had and avoid having regrets.

enjoying your engagement tip picture

So without further ado, here’s some of my own tips for enjoying your engagement to the fullest:

-Be organized without overdoing it. Not everything needs to be color-coded and meticulously organized, but you do need a basic system so that you can easily find something when you need it. Keep all your wedding items and papers in one place (the corner of a spare bedroom or closet is great), and have a binder or folder with the most important papers, including a checklist, phone numbers of vendors, etc., that you can take with you to appointments or planning sessions with your bridal party.

-Ask for help! Seriously. Don’t suck it up and do it all yourself like I tried to, because you simply can’t do it unless you find a way to live without sleep. Enlist your bridal party, parents, crafty friends, co-workers, whoever you can get. Bribe them with candy. Whatever it takes to get some assistance in any area you need. And revel in the great people in your life that are willing to take time out of their day for you!

-Stick to (and make) a budget. When you get to the point you’ve realized you’ve overspent, there’s probably not much you can do to take it back, so don’t let it happen in the first place. Remember that it’s more important to invest in your marriage, not your wedding.

-Breathe. If you’re starting to feel overwhelmed, sit back, close your eyes for a minute and simply breathe deeply. It’s crazy how much something as simple as that can help you calm down. If that’s not enough, walk away and do something else for awhile. Try yoga even!

-Have plenty of date nights with your fiancé. Make time for each other and be in the moment! It’s so important to not let your relationship slide to the back burner during this time. You’re engaged! Enjoy it! Prioritize spending quality time together and find fun ways to connect. I think it’s also important to talk a lot. Get to know each other on a deeper level. Ask each other hard questions. It’s amazing what you learn about your partner when you take the time to ask!

-Make lots of time for you. Go ahead, get massages leading up to the big day, schedule a facial and plenty of pedicures! Pamper yourself, because loving yourself is important too. If you’re tight on money, have an at-home spa day, or devote one entire weekend day to reading on the couch with your fave beverage. Go for a long walk in the park. Whatever it takes to relax your mind, have some fun and recharge your battery without doing anything wedding-related.

-Think about your expectations of your husband, bridal party and close family members and communicate to them what EXACTLY you want out of them. Never assume anything. (I assumed my mom would show up to help me get ready before the ceremony, but she didn’t because I didn’t tell her to be there. She simply didn’t know and wanted to help make sure the church was prepared and greet guests as they arrived, which was nice, but not what I had envisioned. That is 100% my fault.)

-Stick to your guns. Don’t let anyone else persuade you from wandering from your wedding-day dreams. If you really truly want to walk down the aisle to Spice Girls, do it. If you want to serve broccoli-flavored cake, do it. Who cares if someone thinks it’s weird or untraditional. It’s your day. Do what YOU want. They have/had their own day to do what they want.

-Accept the fact that things more than likely will go wrong on your wedding day and leading up to it. You probably will be disappointed in something, someone will make your big day all about them, and people you thought you could rely on may fail you. And as much as all of that sucks, it’s completely normal and there’s nothing you can do about it.

-Remember the big picture. What’s most important at the end of the day is that you get to marry the man (or woman!) you love. View your wedding as a success if that happens. As long as you and your spouse are happy with your decisions, you’re set.

The reason I think it’s so important to have an enjoyable engagement is so that you can carry it into your upcoming marriage. You want to set a good tone for your new life together. You don’t want to go into it frantic and frazzled! You (probably) only get to be engaged once, so you want to be able to look back on that time of your life and smile. It’s a happy time; enjoy it!

I want to garden

I do not have a green thumb. Two summers ago when I tried to keep a catnip plant alive, it died a gruesome death. When I was a child and my mom asked me to help her weed our family garden, I wanted to do anything but that.

But recently, something changed. I got into meal planning and cooking more. I grew more concerned with eating healthier and making better food choices. I tried new things, I bought more organic. And I feel a responsiblity to keep all of that up!

I really like the idea of being a little more self sustainable. No, I’m not gonna go all hippie farmer pioneer lady, but having some of the items I regularly buy anyway at the grocery be from my own garden sounds so good. No pesticides, no whatever else is on the stuff I buy at the store, plus hey, I’ll probably save some money.

I think having a garden is another one of those things I relate to being a grown up. I love trying new things that make me feel like a wife, and maybe possibly a mom sometime. Heck, I never once flipped over to HGTV until I was married! And I kind of love it. My husband even seems excited by the idea!

With that being said, I need some help. I have no idea what to do or where to start. Disclaimer: We still live in an apartment, so any gardening would need to be out of planters/pots/trays/tubs on our patio. I know tomatoes are easy to grow, but neither of us like them and have no interest in ever having one in our house. So that aside, what are some of the easiest plants to grow? So far I’ve heard cucumbers, leaf lettuce and peppers. I would LOVE to have some asparagus and carrots too, though word on the street is they’re harder. What are some successes you’ve had, readers? What other tips can you give? Where do I start? What do I buy at the store? How often do I water? How long will it take to have actual food?

I may fail miserably at this, but it’s something I’m really excited to try.

The Truth About Marriage Is

The other day, my bestie who is engaged showed me an article she came across called “5 ways to secure your happyish ever after.” I found it refreshing and it slapped me in the face a bit. Here’s why. This line: “Invest in your marriage, not your wedding.”

Wow. I mean, it’s common sense, but why on earth did I not apply that thought to my own wedding?! Before we were engaged, we both had debt, but that sure didn’t stop me from overspending on my wedding. I used the logic, ‘It’s the biggest day of my life’ as an excuse to buy every little thing that struck my fancy. I also wanted to have lots of small personal touches that I thought would make my wedding stand apart. But now that that day is gone, did it really matter that I had personalized napkins? No. Even though I bought them on sale, no one would have been upset with me if I didn’t have them. Because napkins aren’t what makes a wedding awesome. It’s the people who are committing their lives to each other.

It’s hard to realize that every little expense adds up really quickly, and impulse purchases did me in. I’m now literally paying the price of my frivolous spending when it came to my wedding. And I HATE myself some days when I realize that the money I’m using to pay off my credit cards with ridiculous interest could have all been going toward a down payment on a house or a new car for my husband who badly needs a more reliable vehicle. It could have started a savings account for our future children. It could have been used wisely. Instead I’m throwing hundreds, more likely thousands, of dollars into paying off my wedding and other purchases that I really didn’t need to make. But there’s no use in dwelling in the past, and the best thing is to move forward and make better decisions from now on. Which I am trying really hard to do. Changing bad habits is really friggin’ tough. If I can curb unnecessary spending, I’m going to be setting better examples for any future children and set up a better foundation for our marriage and lives together. Not to mention cause less stress for both of us!

This article had some other really solid points, like this one: “The truth is that cleaning up socks and trying to get someone to really listen to you IS marriage. It’s less sweep you off your feet and more sweep the kitchen four times a day.”

The point is that marriage is most of the time not glamorous. It’s work. Hard work.

When I got engaged, I thought to myself often, ‘I got this. I’m going to be an awesome wife. It won’t be hard. Nothing’s going to change.’ Wrong. I thought that just because Cal and I had dated for eight years that I knew everything there was to being married because it wouldn’t be different than dating. But it is! It so is!

That’s the one thing that has surprised me the most about being married. It is very different from dating or even being engaged. Because it’s so much more serious now. It’s locked in. I gave my commitment that I am going to be with this person for the rest of my life, and we have to make it work. I mean, if we want to have a happy and healthy relationship anyway. We have to combine two totally separate lives into one. We have to make decisions together. We have to manage money and the household together. Not to mention potentially raise children together! That one is terrifying. But that’s another blog post in itself.

I think that it’s incredibly hard to be a good wife and live up to the expectations I thought I had about marriage. I often compare myself to others. I think that other couples have no issues. I think that I should be more like so-and-so. Or even worse, I put unfair standards on my husband. ‘I wish he were more like so-and-so.’ But that is toxic thinking. He is not anyone else but himself, and I am myself. I married him and I accepted everything about who he is by doing so. Sometimes when I hear stories about husbands who do X for their wife (start their car in the morning, rub their feet every night, buy them unexpected gifts and shower them with kisses 24/7, whatever it is), I get jealous. But it is so unfair to put that kind of unspoken pressure on someone. I need to focus less on what my husband doesn’t do and instead on the things he DOES do. It’s not like he does nothing for me. He does so much! And I need to be more grateful of that.

As humans, we’re naturally selfish. Seeing the big picture is hard. Especially for people like me who tend to overanalyze everything. But we all have self doubt, jealousy and strange emotions that make us human. Reminding yourself of that and taking the time to realize that, then fix bad behaviors, is important. And that’s what makes us good wives and husbands, I think. Remembering to accept each other as is and work together to deal with life, to be a team and have a happy and healthy relationship.

I also read an article that a friend shared on Facebook about how Brad Pitt even considered divorcing Angie when times got tough. But instead of throwing in the towel, he tried. Putting our own needs aside to help our spouse can be hard too, because often we get so wrapped up in our own individual lives that we forget there’s another person we need to consider. That makes me respect their marriage much more, though it’s hard to compare to a Hollywood A-list couple. But the lesson is universal: Be considerate, be there and TRY.

I’m sure that I’m going to learn so much more down the road about marriage, relationships and life, but if our foundation can stay solid, we’ll make it through whatever comes our way. To stay solid though, we have to keep making that effort. I think that’s most important.

What lessons have you learned about love? Any surprises? Advice?