Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Fun Rehearsal Dinner Ideas

Not into the idea of having a formal rehearsal dinner? No worries! There are several alternative options for you. Here are some ideas from Yifat Oren, celebrity wedding planner and event design expert:

Have a picnic. No matter where you live, having a picnic is a great idea. Check with a local park or boardwalk and prepare an old-fashion spread (with sandwiches, salads and lemonade).
Tip: Be sure you have enough food for guests to make a meal of it, or tell them a full dinner won't be served. Although it's a picnic, you can't skimp on the servings. Don't want to be responsible for a whole meal? Consider having the dinner in the early afternoon or later on in the evening; that way, guests will know what to expect.

Fire up the grill. Organizing a casual backyard barbecue can be a great way to hang out and allow everyone to get to know each other, just be sure you balance your time away from the grill. If you're working with a planner, see if he or she can help with the rehearsal dinner as well.
Tip: If you feel that your bonding time with your new family will be utilized by serving food, consider having the dinner in a restaurant.

Play Some Games. Sometimes, nothing can be better than an old-school game night, like the ones you had as a kid. So pull out Outburst!, Trivial Pursuit and other games.
Tip: Keep it casual and order some pizza, have a nice home cooked meal or have it catered. Eat first before starting the games. That way, you won't have to worry about serving food and cleaning while in the middle of an intense Monopoly game.

For more tips, check out our source, 8 Fun Rehearsal Dinner Ideas.

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Thursday, October 25, 2012

10 Things to Know Before You Remarry

By Ron L. Deal, LMFT, LPC (Author of The Smart Stepfamily: Seven Steps to a Healthy Family)

Specializing in stepfamily therapy and education for over a decade has taught me one thing: Couples should be highly educated about remarriage and the process of becoming a stepfamily before they ever step down the aisle. Remarriage -- particularly when children are involved -- is much more challenging than dating seems to imply. Be sure to open your eyes well before a decision to marry has been made.

Eyes Wide Open
The following list represents key challenges every single-parent (or those dating a single-parent) should know before deciding to remarry. Open wide both your eyes now, and you -- and your children -- will be grateful later.

1. Wait 2-3 years following divorce or the death of your spouse before seriously dating. No, I'm not kidding. Most people need a few years to fully heal from an ending of a previous relationship. Moving into new relationships short-circuits the healing process, so do yourself a favor and grieve the pain, don't run from it. In addition, your children will need at least this much time to heal and find stability in their visitation schedule. Slow down.

2. Date two years before deciding to marry; then date their children before the wedding. Dating two years gives you time to really get to know one another. Too many relationships are formed on the rebound when both persons lack Godly discernment about their fit with a new person. Give yourself plenty of time to get to know them thoroughly. Keep in mind -- and this is very important -- that dating is inconsistent with remarried life. Even if everything feels right, dramatic psychological and emotional shifts often take place for children, parents and stepparents right after the wedding. What seems like smooth sailing can become a rocking storm in a hurry. Don't be fooled into thinking you won't experience difficulties. As one parent said, "Falling in love is not enough when it comes to remarriage; there's just more required than that."

When you do become serious about marriage, date with the intention of deepening the stepparent-stepchild relationships. Young children can attach themselves to a future stepparent rather quickly so make sure you're serious before spending lots of time together. Older children will need more time (research suggests that the best time to remarry is before a child's 10th birthday or after his/her 16th; couples who marry between those years collide with the teens developmental needs).

3. Know how to cook a stepfamily. Most people think the way to cook a stepfamily is with a blender ("blended family"), microwave, pressure cooker or food processor. Nothing could be further from the truth. All of these "cooking styles" attempt to combine the family ingredients in a rapid fashion. Unfortunately, resentment and frustration are the only results.

The way to cook a stepfamily is with a crock-pot. Once thrown into the pot, it will take time and low heat to bring ingredients together, requiring that adults step into a new marriage with determination and patience. The average stepfamily takes five to seven years to combine, some take longer. There are no quick recipes, only dedicated jouneyman. (Read more about how to cook a stepfamily here).

4. Realize that the "honeymoon" comes at the end of the journey for remarried couples, not the beginning. Ingredients thrown into a crock-pot that have not had sufficient time to cook don't taste good -- and might make you sick. Couples need to understand that the rewards of stepfamily life (e.g., security, family identity and gratitude for one another) come at the end of the journey. Just as the Israelites traveled a long time before entering the Promise Land, so it will be for your stepfamily.

5. Think about the kids: "Yours and Mine." Children experience numerous losses before entering a stepfamily. In fact, your remarriage is another. It sabotages their fantasy that mom and dad can reconcile or that a deceased parent will always hold their place in the home. Seriously consider your children's losses before deciding to remarry. If waiting till your children leave home before you remarry is not an option, work to be sensitive to your child's loss issues. Don't rush them and don't take their grief away.

6. Manage and be sensitive to loyalties. Even in the best of circumstances, children feel torn between their biological parents and likely feel that enjoying your dating partner will please you but betray their other parent. Don't force children to make choices (an "emotional tug-of-war") and examine the binds they feel.Give them your permission to love and respect new people in the other home and let them warm up to your new spouse in their own time.

7. Don't expect your partner (new spouse) to feel the same about your children as you do. It's a good fantasy, but stepparents won't experience or care for your children to the same degree as you do. This is not to say that stepparents and stepchildren can't have close bonds; they can. But it won't be the same. When looking at your daughter, you will see a sixteen-year-old who brought you mud pies when she was four and showered you with hugs each night after work. Your spouse will see a self-centered brat who won't abide by the house rules. Expect to have different opinions and to disagree on parenting decisions.

8. Realize that remarriage has unique barriers. Are you more committed to your children or your marriage? If you aren't willing to risk losing your child to the other home, for example, don't make the commitment of marriage. Making a covenant does not mean neglecting your kids, but it does mean that they are taught which relationship is your ultimate priority. A marriage that is not the priority will be mediocre at best.

Another unique barrier involves the ghost of marriage past. Individuals can be haunted by the negative experiences of previous relationships and not even recognize how it is impacting the new marriage. Work to not interpret the present in light of the past, or you might be destined to repeat it.

9. Parent as a team; get your plan ready. No single challenge is more predictive of stepfamily success than the ability of the couple to parent as a team. Stepparents must find their role, know their limits in authority, and borrow power from the biological parent in order to contribute to parental leadership. Biological parents must keep alive their role as primary disciplinarian and nurturer while supporting the stepparent's developing role. Managing these roles will not be easy; get a plan and stick together.

10. Know what to tell the kids. Tell them:

  • It's okay to be confused about the new people in your life.
  • It's okay to be sad about our divorce (or parent's death).
  • You need to find someone safe to talk to about all this.
  • You don't have to love my new spouse, but you do need to treat them with the same respect you would give a coach or teacher at school.
  • You don't have to take sides. When you feel caught in the middle between our home and your other home, please tell me and we'll stop. 
  • You belong to two homes with different rules, routines and relationships. Find your place and contribute good things in each.
  • The stress of our new home will reduce -- eventually.
  • I love you and will always have enough room in my heart for you. I know it's hard sharing me with someone else. I love you. 

Work Smarter, Not Harder
For stepfamilies, accidentally finding their way through the wilderness to the Promised Land is a rarity. Successful navigation requires a map. You've got to work smarter, not harder. Don't begin a new family until you educate yourself on the options and challenges that lie ahead.

Ron L. Deal, LMFT, LPC is President of Smart Stepfamilies, author of The Smart Stepfamily: Seven Steps to a Healthy Family and the forthcoming The Remarriage Couple Checkup with David H. Olson. He has appeared on numerous national TV and radio broadcasts and leads stepfamily conferences around the country. Find other articles, resources and conference information at www.SmartStepfamilies.com

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

4 Tips for Planning an Outdoor Event

Planning an outdoor event? Here are some tips to help you minimize stress:

  1. Get a permit. You'll want to do this as soon as you've finalized where and when you'll have the event. The fastest way to get your event shut down is to hold it without a permit.
  2. Check out all ordinances. Every town has noise ordinances; many times, noise is prohibited after a certain time. Also, look into fire and safety codes, which may have limits on overselling tickets, seating and advertisement. Speak with the state and local authorities, the local fire department and the police about these.
  3. Power. Food stations, DJ/music and other areas that need lights will need power stations. If there aren't enough, have your vendors bring extension cords, and check the power load per plug. Additionally, have a back-up power system to fall back on.
  4. Be sure the guests are comfortable. Have enough drinking water and fountains, and make sure they are spread aound the venue. You can also consider renting portable air conditioners (if your event is during the summer). 

For even more tips, check out our source 16 Tips to Plan a Successful Outdoor Event.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Wedding Mistakes Bridesmaids Should Avoid

It's an honor to stand by your friend's side at her wedding, and with that recognition comes a variety of responsibilities. However, when it comes to wedding dos and don'ts, the boundaries aren't always clear. So, if you're going to be a bridesmaid soon, here are a few common blunders to avoid so you can keep your integrity and be sure your friend feels supported on her special day:

  1. Comment on every detail. Making a decision can become difficult after some time, but that doesn't mean the bride needs your input on all of the wedding specifics. If she asks for your opinion, then give it to her while being honest. At times, however, she may just need a listening ear. With that said, know when to throw your two cents in and when to just act as a sounding board for ideas.
  2. Bend over backwards. While being a bridesmaid certainly calls for a few necessary responsibilities, that doesn't mean you're the bride's servant until her big day. Offer to help out when you can, but don't be scared to say no, whether it's for financial or other reasons. Going overboard will drain you, and you don't want to feel resentful toward your friend during this special time.
  3. Be picky over the details. Don't like the shoes she chose? Wish your dress was another shade? Being the bride means your friend gets to call the shots. Feel free to speak your mind if it's a pricing issue or if she asks about what you prefer; otherwise, just grin and bear it, and keep your choices in mind for your own big day.

For five more mistakes to avoid, check out our source, 8 Mistakes Every Bridesmaid Should Avoid.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

4 Simple Tips for Planning Your High School Reunion

In charge of planning your high school reunion? Here are four simple steps to take to make the reunion a success while impressing your former classmates (from Eventbrite.com):

  1. Begin early. Bear in mind that some of your previous classmates may have to travel, so it's good to give as much advance notice as you can. So, begin the planning process 12-16 months in advance.
  2. Create a reunion committee. Planning the reunion by yourself will be overwhelming. Reconnect with a few of your classmates and get comfortable with assigning some of the tasks to others.
  3. Make a list and a timeline. List the tasks that are associated with the reunion planning and the timeframe they need to be done in. (Reunion Announcements can help if you're not sure what these things are).
  4. Create an Eventbrite page. Check out tips on this from our source

Have you ever planned a high school reunion? What tips do you have?

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