March 18, 2010

Premarial Counseling - A Must?

Now that Cape Cod Groom and I are married, I've begun to look back at our wedding process and reminisce.  One element of our ride to the altar that I have been pondering, but never blogged about before, was our marriage classes.

Because we were getting married by my father at the church I grew up at on Cape Cod, we did not do premarital counseling with him since that would be downright akward.  But, it was important to my MIL that we take marriage classes at the church where my husband was raised.  Initially I was not looking forward to the classes.  I felt that as a couple, we already had very good communication and the capability to do so maturely in the event of future disagreements.  Plus, as a therapist myself, I have experience with counseling couples, so I felt I already knew the "basics" of couples counseling and could implement these skills in my own relationship.

That being said, I acquiesced and enrolled in the classes (they were public, not one therapist per couple) because it was important to my husband's family.  Although I won't go into details about the classes here, the gist of them was that each class had a lecture, often by a married couple, about their relationship and what we could learn from their trials and tribulations.  While I did not always agree with their perspective, the class was useful because afterward on the drive home, my then-fiance and I would compare our thoughts on the class, the couple that taught, and communicate about our views and beliefs.  And it was nice to learn that we nearly always agreed with each other on the important issues (perhaps that is why we were getting married, LOL)! 

Overall, I think that it is beneficial and important for all engaged couples to do some sort of exploratory counseling before their wedding.  If you are not getting married in a church or a place that provides these services, I would recommend going to an independent therapist if you have health insurance.  Most health insurance policies cover a select number of counseling sessions per year (usually 6-12), so why not use them if you have them? If you are on Medicaid, you can also find clinics that accept that as well.

Finally, if you are uninsured, or just want to learn more about your partner or work through any relationship issues on your own, I recommend a great book by Dr. John Gottman called the Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work (click link for image source).  It is an easy to read, practical book about relationship advice, and even includes a fun and comprehensive quiz about how well you know your partner!

Are you and your fiance taking any sort of premarital counseling? If so, has it been helpful for you? Do you think it is something all couples should engage in prior to their wedding?


March 17, 2010

A Word of Advice: Stranger Danger!

I have learned a very important lesson about financial security while planning a wedding, and I think it's important enough to share with everyone. 

When my then-fiance and I decided to start making wedding related purchases, we decided, at the suggestion of Cape Cod Groom, to open a new credit card in both of our names. This was exciting because not only did it signify I could start making wedding purchases, but it was also our very first joint account of any type! We agreed that all major wedding related purchases would be made using solely this credit card. 

For Cape Cod Groom, though, the importance of having a credit card was not so much about having a shared account. While that was a perk that streamlined our wedding purchases and made it easier for both of us to keep track of our spending and budget, to him, a credit card signified something that I did not have the foresight to think of: insurance. 

You see, when you book a wedding vendor, you are mostly doing so on faith. While you may research a vendor to the best of your abilities to make sure they are credible, vendors are still people, and they are people who are usually total strangers to you. That being said, the potential for scams does exist. If you pay someone with cash or check and it ends up being a scam, there is nothing you can do about it. Once your hard earned cash is spent by the vendor, your money is gone forever, unless you embark on the burdensome and expensive route of litigation.

Therefore, to avoid the hazard of getting scammed, either when planning a wedding or making any large purchase, it is always best to pay with a credit card. That is because credit card companies all have a fraud department and carry insurance for these occasions. So if you do have the unfortunate circumstance of being the victim of a scam, you can call the fraud department, explain your story and dispute the charge, and if the credit card company agrees with you, they will refund your money.

In my experience, some vendors will insist that you pay by check. If that is the case, this should raise a red flag. Now, I'm not saying by any means that everyone who wants you to pay with cash is a con artist, but I am saying that you should be extremely cautious in this situation. You can try to negotiate with the vendor. Remember that if they really want your business, especially in today's economy, they may also be willing to let you pay by credit card even though that is not their preferred method of payment.

Unfortunately, I do not think that this is something people often think about when planning their wedding. It is really easy to get caught up in the excitement of booking vendors and planning your big day that you can forget to protect yourself and your groom financially.  Also, if you are an optimistic person like me who tends to give people the benefit of the doubt, it can be easy to assume the best in others. Finally, when the victim of a scam, many people are simply not aware of their rights or the fact that they can rely on a credit card company to back them up.

I'm glad I had Cape Cod Groom to bring a financially wise perspective to our situation. But I am also aware that others may not be so fortunate, so I hope this post will make people stop and think about their options when planning the event of their dreams. With all the stress that goes along with planning a wedding, being the victim of a scam is not something you want to add to your plate.


March 15, 2010

The Bling Thing

All brides know that the first thing anyone asks you once you're engaged is "What does the ring look like?" (if you tell them over the phone), or if you happen make the announcement in person, you will experience the immediate grabbing of your left ring finger for inspection and approval.

Having experienced my own engagement and the recent engagements of my friends, plus reading about other's experiences in the world of wedding blogs, I've quickly learned that engagement rings are a big source of controversy these days.  You have the traditional brides who want the Tiffany & Co. platinum setting, the hipsters and practical brides who want a vintage and/or cruelty free bauble, and the budget minded brides who want something simple that won't break the bank. There are even some who are on board with men wearing engagement rings as well, to symbolize their equal commitment to their relationship.

But all of this bling controversy begs the question, why have an engagement ring at all? 

When I was home for the holidays and visiting one of my best friends from college, her mother stated that she was never given an engagement ring.  In fact, neither my mother nor my MIL ever had engagement rings either.  According to my friend's mom, their generation, which pioneered the feminist movement, felt that engagement rings were completely unnecessary, and worse, a misogynistic symbol of a man buying a woman.  Why not just have two people make a consenting, adult decision to get married, and then be done with it?

"Well Mom," my friend replied, "I may not need a man to buy me a diamond, but I'd still like one."  

My friend's statement is the perfect representation of my generation's attitudes towards engagement rings.  As woman who grew up in a world where we were taught we are independent, capable, and equal to men, we don't need a ring to symbolize that we are a man's property, but most of us still like the tradition of wearing something sentimental and meaningful to us.  We are able to choose how traditional we want to be (through our engagement ring choice and other life choices) because through their rebellion of cultural norms, our mothers paved the way for us to have any opportunity and freedom we desire. 

To be honest, my husband and I took a more practical route and had already made a mutual decision to get married and even enroll in marriage classes before we made it "official" by him getting me a diamond ring. And while I love my ring and what it represents, I always found it silly that people still don't consider you really engaged until you have that ring on your finger.

What are your views on engagement rings? Do you view them as necessary in our current culture? Would you be willing to get engaged if your fiance did not present you with a diamond? 


March 14, 2010

Want to be on TV?

I was recently contacted by a casting director for the CW network, who asked me to share their blurb about a new reality show that wants to cast engaged couples that are looking to shed some serious poundage before their wedding.  Though reality shows aren't really my thing, I am on a new fitness routine myself and think health should be number one, so I can get on board with the idea that it would be great for a couple to earn the chance to win a dream wedding while becoming healthier.  

Here is the info from the CW:

The CW is currently casting engaged couples wanting to lose weigh before their BIG DAY!

The CW along with the creator and producers of “THE BIGGEST LOSER” have come together to give one lucky couple their DREAM WEDDING.  With help from our fitness experts, couples will compete in weekly challenges to shed those extra pounds. We are looking for OUTGOING, COMPETITIVE couples that want to lose between 30 to 60 lbs each. If you and your fiancĂ© are up for the challenge and want to win your dream wedding, now’s your chance.

Please submit at least two pictures of the happy couple, a brief description of your dream wedding and your complete contact info to:


March 8, 2010

Vendor I Heart: Origami Bijou

With all the recaps of my wedding and my recent giveaway, it's been awhile since I've had a post about a featured vendor that I love.  I decided it was finally time for one again when I was contacted by Origami Bijou, who wanted to know what I thought of their line of modern jewelry and was interested in offering a special discount to my readers!

I immediately headed over to their website and was enthralled with their work. They create really unique, modern pieces of jewelry (earrings and necklaces) that are perfect for special occasions or everyday wear. 

I love their heart collection, which is much more subtle and creative than your traditional Tiffany's heart line.  The earrings and necklace set would be lovely for bridesmaids or a bride looking to add a romantic touch to her wedding.

Another one of my favorites was their modern alphabet collection, which would be great to customize for a bridal party. I should also note that they offer most of their pieces in silver and gold. Here is a gold necklace with my initial:

For someone looking for a more dressy or classic look, they also sell a pearl collection.  One of my favorites is the lotus flower necklace pictured below, which I could totally picture wearing to an outdoor garden wedding:

And last but certainly not least, no Cape Cod Bride would be complete without wearing something from their nautical line! Preppy brides having a coastal wedding (like me) will adore their sail boat collection, which features pieces such as this:

The best news is that the company is offering an exclusive discount for readers of Cape Cod Bride.  From now until April 5th, enter capecodbride as the coupon code during checkout and get 15% off all orders! Enjoy :-)

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