5 Ways to Celebrate Your Wedding Anniversary

Happy Friday! Today is a special day because John and I are celebrating our 5th wedding anniversary! Time sure does fly when you’re having fun. To commemorate 5 years of wedded bliss, I’m sharing 5 ways to celebrate your wedding anniversary!

1. Watch your wedding video and look through your wedding album. Each year on our wedding anniversary we watch our wedding video and reminisce about our wedding week in Mexico. Being able to relive those happy memories and feelings together is a simple way to ignite your love for one another and is a tradition you can share with your kids one day. You can read all about our destination wedding here and watch our video below.

2. Spend the day together and seek new experiences and activities. Try a cooking or painting class, go to a wine tasting or host one at your house, go to a baseball game, a concert or see a comedy show. Another alternative is to pick a sport that one of you loves like horseback riding, golf or baseball and spend the day on a golf course or at the batting cages. One year I surprised John with a private helicopter tour over Chicago on NYE which happened to be our dating anniversary and it was a memorable experience for the both of us. For our second wedding anniversary we treated ourselves to a Spa Day followed by dinner afterward. To keep it exciting, you can alternate who picks the activity each year and this is a fun way to cross things off your bucket list.

3. Take an anniversary trip. John and I have taken many trips together over the years and we both agree that sharing experiences and creating new memories outweigh traditional gifts. Instead of spending money on things, we “gift” each other trips whenever we can for our anniversary or birthdays. For our 1st wedding anniversary we spent a long weekend in San Francisco with a day trip to Napa Valley and last year we traveled to Italy for two weeks (read all about it here). This year we are going to Naples, FL over Memorial Day Weekend. Saving for an anniversary trip each year or every few years for those milestone anniversaries is a great way to start incorporating more travel into your life.

4. If a getaway or vacation isn’t in your budget, opt for a “staycation” in your own city. Go sightseeing during the day, visit a museum, do some shopping and then rent a hotel room for the night. You can order room service and binge watch your favorite movies in your hotel room and the hotel staff is always happy and willing to accommodate any special requests. Just inform them upon your arrival that it’s your anniversary and have a bottle of champagne and strawberries sent up to your room for that extra romantic touch.

5. Organize an anniversary photo shoot together. Hire a professional photographer, get your makeup done and get some professional photos taken for the fun of it. John and I didn’t get an engagement session in before our wedding, but we did a winter photo shoot the following year when we traveled to Park City which happened to be the town our wedding photographer is from. It was a unique experience and we were able to use those photos for our holiday cards later that year.

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Wedding Etiquette: The Do’s and Don’ts

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We’ve all questioned at one time or another what is appropriate wedding attire, how much money to spend on the wedding gift or how long you have after the wedding to send out your thank-you notes. Hey, guess what? These are valid questions and concerns.  Luckily, there are a ton of wedding articles and rules of etiquette on the web that can answer these questions or hopefully someone with more experience you can turn to. Yet despite all of these resources at one’s disposal, there are many adults who lack good manners and an understanding of general wedding etiquette; therefore, I have taken the liberty of compiling a list of do’s and don’ts that sometimes get overlooked, which could ultimately spare you from potential embarrassment or unintentionally offending someone you care about.

The Do’s & Dont’s

Don’t invite anyone to your pre-wedding day celebrations you aren’t inviting to your wedding. This is a big no-no and probably the most important rule of wedding etiquette. Why make anyone feel they’re only important enough to come to your bridal shower and ‘shower’ you with a gift or cover the cost of your drinks all night at your last hurrah as a bachelor or bachelorette, but not important enough to celebrate with you on your big day? It’s rude and people will take it personally. While your intentions may be golden and think having them be apart of one of your events is better than none at all, they will feel excluded and confused.

Don’t ask the bride and groom if you can bring a casual date to the wedding, or worse, show up with an unexpected guest. Your friends, more than likely, already know your dating situation and will address the invitation to you and guest. You’ll probably have more fun attending solo anyway over tending to a date who doesn’t know anyone.

Do mention your friend’s significant other on the invitation if you know their name and they are cohabiting, if you want them both to attend. Not doing so, could easily create confusion on their end and you risk having a potential guest forgo your event if they think they aren’t welcome.

Don’t mail back an RSVP with plus-four and your children’s names with the intent of bringing the entire clan if the invitation doesn’t address each member of the family. Invitations are meant for only those who are mentioned so leave the kiddos at home and enjoy an adults-only evening with your spouse.

Do give a wedding gift. A wedding gift generally symbolizes a token of affection and is a thoughtful gesture to express your best wishes for the happy couple. If you’re questioning what is considered an ‘appropriate’ gift amount, use your relationship to the couple as a point of reference. Additionally, TheKnot.com gives a ballpark to aim for, recommending $50-$75 on a co-worker and/or a distant family friend and $100-200+ on a close friend or relative. Moreover, you generally have up to a year after the wedding date to send a gift so there really should be no excuse for attending someone’s wedding without so much as even a card.

Now, you might be contemplating if this same rule applies to destination weddings and if there are exceptions to the rule. Technically, a wedding gift should still be given when attending a destination wedding; however, with the additional expenses associated with destination weddings, don’t feel pressured to spend more than you are comfortable with. Most couples would agree that having their guests present is truly a gift in itself.

Do look presentable. Gentlemen, put on a sport coat, a freshly pressed pair of slacks and a button up, at the very least. If the invitation specifies the wedding will be a formal event, then a suit and tie are required. Don’t show up to a wedding in jeans and a t-shirt unless the invitation says otherwise or you are going to a backyard BBQ. Ladies, a tasteful knee-length cocktail dress works well for any occasion and a long gown is suitable for a formal affair, but please do not wear white unless the bride and groom have requested their guests do so. Not ivory, not cream and not even a white suit. This is the oldest rule in the book. If your outfit of choice has to have some white, then white colorblock will suffice. Most importantly, use your best judgment and let the bride and groom shine on their special day.

Don’t wait too long before sending out thank-you notes. The general rule to send out thank-you notes after a bridal shower are two to three weeks from the day of the event and within three months from the day of your wedding. Any wedding gifts you receive before your wedding should be acknowledged before the wedding day. If you wait too long, your guests may think you never received their wedding gift or that it was lost or stolen, resulting in that awkward phone call or text message asking if you ever received it.

Do personalize your thank-you notes. If your guests are able to take time out of their schedules to be there to celebrate with you and bring you a gift, then you should take time to express your gratitude. A handwritten thank-you note with a personal touch is still appreciated over a generic typed up message even in today’s digital world.

Don’t ask someone to stand up in your wedding with whom you don’t have a strong relationship or only do so out of obligation. Your wedding party should be your closest friends or family members and who you know will be there for you. It really is an honor to be included and asked to stand up, but there are a lot of expenses and duties that come with being apart of someone’s wedding. Your wedding party should include the people you can count on, have meaningful relationships with and will continue to be there for you after the wedding. If you ask someone with whom you don’t have a strong relationship, you take the risk of them accepting the role because they don’t want to let you down or they feel pressured to do so, which could result in them complaining through the entire process, or worse, pulling out at a later date. If you do commit to standing up in someone’s wedding, then you should genuinely want to be there for that person and do all that is asked of you.

Don’t ask someone to stand up in your wedding as a backup. No one wants to be second choice and you don’t need to fill spots just to have the same number of bridesmaids as there are groomsmen, and vice versa. This isn’t a popularity contest so don’t fret if the groom asked eight of his closest friends while you only asked four.

Don’t be a bridezilla and demanding of your bridal party. Your bridesmaids should be there to make your wedding day and days leading up to it run smoothly and less stressful. Bridesmaids are typically in charge of hosting the bachelorette party, sometimes assist in the planning and executing of the bridal shower, and should help with any miscellaneous tasks such as sending out invitations, dress shopping or DIY projects. With that being said, don’t expect your bridesmaids to be available at the snap of your fingers if you don’t give them prior notice or a couple options with available dates. When it comes to your bachelorette party, don’t demand they pay for a luxurious hotel suite, cover all costs for an expensive long weekend in Las Vegas and mandate they purchase a table at a club with bottle service. You should give your bridesmaids or MOH an idea of what you would like to do, but ultimately, this is a party they host and one they should agree on and take charge.FullSizeRender-8 copy

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A Display Bridal Shower for the Non-Traditional Bride

1525298_10151906908251105_619378182_n1979678_10151906908971105_595006431_n1962762_10151906907201105_1750805319_nOver the years, I’ve had the privilege of attending or being apart of close to two dozen bridal showers for friends and family. I am a hopeless romantic who loves all things wedding. With that being said, as delighted as I am to be apart of any and all pre-wedding day celebrations in honor of the bride and groom, bridal showers are mundane and tend to be, well, boring. You show up, make small talk, eat lunch, watch the couple open their gifts, and go home. And while the bridesmaids help the bride and groom sort through and open gifts, the other guests are left to chit-chat amongst each other, entirely disengaged during the gift-opening process until their name is called and their gift is presented. Now, this might come as a surprise to some, but I have to be candid. Nobody cares about the gifts you receive or who bought what.

When we started planning for our bridal shower two years ago, my main objective was to make it an enjoyable affair for everyone involved. Taking into account my personal thoughts on traditional bridal showers, I had considered a couple alternatives such as an evening or a couples’ shower. We were planning to invite over a 100 guests and wanted to keep expenses down, so hosting an evening affair or extending invites to significant others would have been costly. While brainstorming different ideas, I had remembered my mother-in-law mentioning to me that she had once attended a bridal shower where the gifts were brought unwrapped and put on display for all to see. Hmm..a bridal shower that doesn’t incorporate those awkward couple of hours ripping through gifts while our guests pretend to look interested in that new appliance or kitchenware I asked for?! Now that’s an idea! And so, a Saturday afternoon Display Bridal Shower is what it was going to be.index 21970690_10151906907846105_1978519022_n150488_10151906906286105_1068958839_n998497_10151906906481105_1763960077_n1960066_10151906907931105_1381187303_n1922330_10151906905616105_1737945811_nI am fortunate to have a thoughtful and generous mother-in-law who also happens to be an extraordinary planner and hostess when it comes to the parties and events she throws. With the help of my parents, her friends and my bridesmaids, she went above and beyond to make the day special, from beginning to end. From adhering to the lavender and white color scheme of our destination wedding and executing all of my ideas while keeping as much of it as a surprise until the day of, she made sure it was the shower I envisioned and one that was fitting to me.

Some of our ideas, including decor, games and favors came from Pinterest. We wanted to keep expenses down as best we could so we had to incorporate a lot of DIY projects and this was something I was able to be a part of.  My mother-in-law purchased everything we needed at local stores such as Hobby Lobby or Michaels and through e-Commerce websites such as Oriental Trading and Tulle Shop.index 3bouquetindex1969386_10151906905741105_190052918_nI wanted our centerpieces to be mixed floral arrangements of hydrangeas and roses set in jeweled vases. The jeweled vases were hard to come by and so this is where our DIY skills came in handy and a hot glue gun became our best friend. We purchased a couple rolls of rhinestone ribbon that measured wide enough to cover square glass vases that were purchased from the local florist. I put together a ‘Meet the Maids’ board with photos of all of my bridesmaids introducing each of them and a blurb of how we met. Our favors were individual sized bottles of champagne that were purchased at Binny’s that we later customized with our photo by gluing over the original labels. We then attached a small organza bag filled with purple and silver wrapped Hershey’s Kisses to each bottle. Along with the centerpieces and favors, each table had a clear frame displaying our photo with the table number next to it since we opted for a seating arrangement. My mother-in-law and her go-to gal pal for crafts and DIY projects, decorated a white bird cage with lavender and silver mesh ribbon which was later used to hold any envelopes we received and they created a board that displayed a printed photo of each gift we received through our Honeyfund registry. We had a large dessert table covered in a silver rosette tablecloth with a variety of desserts, ranging from brownies, cake pops, candies, Hershey’s chocolate bars with customized labels and trays of home made Serbian baked goods.1794747_10151906906966105_1072486841_n1922439_10151906904276105_2140604832_n10152548_10151906903516105_1169846253_n1960118_10151906906376105_2139573289_nBecause we hosted a Display Bridal Shower and our invitations specified that any gifts brought be unwrapped, we had to come up with games to entertain our guests after lunch. I glued a handful of photos of various ages onto a poster board for everyone to guess my age and whoever came closest and had the most correct, took home a prize. We wanted to incorporate our destination wedding theme as best we could, so each winner took home a prize that included a beach towel, a travel magazine, a luggage tag and beach towel clips wrapped in a plastic beach basket.index 41975093_10151906909631105_461946538_n1978852_10151906905851105_2000025049_n 10014665_10151906906891105_1193145600_n10154014_10151906908661105_1893591711_n1970567_10151906908371105_1378813331_nThe list of games my Matron of Honor came up with included:

  • A 10 question Bridal Trivia that asked anything from wedding traditions in other countries, to celebrity marriages and which city is nicknamed the ‘Honeymoon Capital of the World’
  • A 20 question trivia of How Well Do You Know the Bride & Groom?
  • A Purse Scavenger Hunt that asked you to match 44 items on the list to whatever was in your bag

We wrapped up the day with a variation of the Newlywed Game known as the Shoe Game, which happened to be everyone’s favorite part of the day.  John and I took each other’s shoe and sat back to back while the MOH asked a series of questions and we would then hold up the shoe of the respective partner who we believed each question best described. The suspense and excitement that came with trying to guess who the questions best pertained to, undeniably made the Shoe Game a hit.10153239_10151906909181105_1688726218_n 1959519_10151906907711105_856636850_n1475944_10151906906926105_530050463_n 6978_10151906909751105_1446296258_nThe venue we chose for our bridal shower was Volare in Oakbrook Terrace which has since closed down, but the downtown Chicago location remains open. We had the entire restaurant to ourselves to accommodate our 90+ guests for an afternoon affair and the cost of food and wine was reasonable. If you plan to host a bridal shower for more than 15 guests, want more time to mingle and not spend time opening gifts, then a Display Bridal Shower is an ideal alternative for you.1975131_10151906907786105_620223118_n10152029_10151906904021105_1779125956_ninvite 2

[Photography Credit]: Catherine Dodgson

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