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H&M Launches $99 Wedding Gown

Posted by Angel Babbitt Harris March 12, 2014 11:25 AM

Fact: Weddings are expensive.
Myth: Your wedding dress should be expensive, too.

I'm a firm believer that a bride-to-be should NOT go broke buying a dress for her wedding day. It's one day. Of course it's a special day, but let's keep it real -- most brides only wear the dress once. I got married last October and my dress is buried in the back of my closet somewhere...collecting dust!

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Source: H&M

Kudos to Swedish retailer H&M for bringing a $99 wedding gown to the bridal game, giving price-conscious brides an affordable option as they navigate finding the perfect gown. The white dress pays homage to vintage 1930s Hollywood and features a fitted waist and beaded floral detailing along the collarbone. The dress will be available online and in stores later this month.

Brides-to-be, would you say yes to H&M's $99 dress?

Beautiful Things are Happening in the City's Ugliest Building

Posted by Angel Babbitt Harris December 10, 2013 08:05 AM

Last night during my Twitter stalking, I came across a tweet from the City of Boston (@NotifyBoston). The tweet shared a link to a sweet, fast-moving video showcasing couples who get married in Boston City Hall.

One Thing That Makes City Hall Special from City of Boston on Vimeo.

Images from this video can be found on the Married in Boston Tumblr page. Started on the ninth anniversary of marriage equality, the Mayor's Office of New Urban Mechanics came up with this great concept to set up a makeshift photobooth on the sixth floor of City Hall to document these special newlywed moments.

It's a great attempt at rebranding such a drab building. It almost makes you want to get married there, right? If a Boston City Hall elopement is in your future, check out the process here.

Elaborate Marriage Proposals: Yay or Nay?

Posted by Angel Babbitt Harris December 9, 2013 03:16 PM

Yes, engagement season is here.

Facebook timelines are crowded with engagement announcements, every other commercial on television is a jewelry advertisement, and Youtube videos highlighting elaborate marriage proposals are going viral, like this one:

Last Thursday evening, Chicago Bulls cheerleader Ariana Rosado received the surprise of her life when boyfriend, Shane Zackery, popped the question during a third-quarter dance performance in front of a crowd of basketball fans at the United Center. What started out as a choreographed routine, left Rosado stunned when her boyfriend of two years popped out of a fake mascot costume and dropped down on his knee to propose.

Rosado said YES.

Apparently, Zackery just upped the ante for everyone out their preparing to pop the question during the holidays!

Are over-the-top marriage proposals your style?

3,000 Couples to Say 'I Do' on Tuesday

Posted by Angel Babbitt Harris November 7, 2013 12:32 PM

Iconic dates are becoming quite trendy in the U.S. when it comes to exchanging vows.

Tuesday, or 11-12-13, marks this year's most popular wedding date, according to an annual survey released by David's Bridal.

"Iconic dates have become a trend in the United States, reaching new heights when over 65,000 couples tied the knot on 07/07/07," said Brian Beitler, Chief Marketing Officer for David's Bridal. "11/12/13 is a sequential pattern, and we have learned that couples love dates that have patterns. The last consecutive series of the century will occur next year, 12/13/14. It falls on a Saturday, so we predict this date could reach record breaking numbers."

Any quirky, math-loving couples out there care to share your thoughts on this trend?

Vendor Spotlight: EVOO

Posted by Angel Babbitt Harris November 6, 2013 12:18 PM

When you consider the cost of hiring a DJ, booking a caterer, paying for rentals, choosing centerpieces, and securing furniture, opting to have an intimate wedding dinner in lieu of a traditional (and often times expensive) reception sounds like a perfect plan.

For us, EVOO was that perfect plan. We worked with EVOO's incredible staff to secure the space for our wedding dinner. Every interaction we had with their team was stress-free. The semi-private dining area we chose accommodated our 60 guests comfortably. The food? Amazing. EVOO's menu features a delicious variety of organic, local and sustainable ingredients. They even created a custom menu complete with a photo of us. Little details like that make my heart smile!

We were able to save a significant amount of money by selecting EVOO as the location for our wedding dinner. The atmosphere was intimate, allowing for us to spend more time talking to our loved ones. It was a special evening, indeed!

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If you are planning a small wedding (under 75 guests), I highly recommend considering what we did. It was simple, yet elegant. We stayed true to our budget and our personalities, and we will always have memories of the special time we had at EVOO on our wedding day!

EVOO, 350 3rd Street, Kendall Square, Cambridge, 617-661-3866. Visit their website at www.evoorestaurant.com for hours and menu.

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Our private dining area at EVOO on the wedding day. Photo credit: Maureen Cotton Photography


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Simple elegance. Photo credit: Maureen Cotton Photography


Guests Didn't Give Wedding Gifts? Keep Calm and Carry On

Posted by Angel Babbitt Harris October 29, 2013 03:42 PM

I'm big on thank yous. For me, it's important to send thank you cards to all of our guests, even those who did not give gifts. Yes, I just went there. Wedding does not equal gift. While we greatly appreciated the gifts received, it was certainly not an expectation. Many of our family members came in from out of town to attend our wedding, many took days off from work -- and for that, a prompt and sincere thank you should be extended to every person who attended.

Not everyone agrees with this sentiment.

Some of you may recall the The New York Times article published this summer about a woman who wed in 1994 and still vividly remembers all the guests who didn't bother to give gifts. Really? She's still salty after 19 years? Sad, but true. What's even more sad is she's not alone. Many people take this seriously and get offended when the 'no-wedding gift guest' shows up to their wedding empty-handed. Personally, I don't have time to worry or lament over who didn't gift us. I'm much too busy trying to solve the mystery of the card we received with money inside but no signature!

Etiquette varies on this topic depending on who you ask. Here's my two cents: Always take the high road. Just don't do what this crazy couple did after receiving a gift they didn't like. Gulp!

Newlyweds, how are you handling wedding gift thank yous and guests who didn't gift?

I'd love to hear your stories.

Greetings from the Newlyweds!

Posted by Angel Babbitt Harris October 14, 2013 08:25 PM

We did it!

Saturday was amazing. Despite the chilly weather, we had a lovely outdoor ceremony in the courtyard at the Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center, surrounded by 75 of our closest family and friends. The ceremony was followed by a casual cocktail hour in the visually stunning art gallery and theater at our venue. We ended the evening in Kendall Square at EVOO for an intimate (and delicious) dinner celebration with cake and cupcakes from Oakleaf Cakes.

We have a million memories and photos from Maureen Cotton Photography to share with everyone, but my husband (oh, I like saying that) and I are packing for our honeymoon, so for now enjoy this peek of us on the big day...

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One Week to Go!

Posted by Angel Babbitt Harris September 30, 2013 10:23 PM

Wow. Our wedding is a week away. And just think, I didn't even have to make 300 sandwiches to get to this point.

Any other brides-to-be out there trying to survive the week before the wedding? Here's a helpful checklist to keep by your side as you get closer to your wedding day:

A Week Before The Wedding...

  • Delegate, delegate, and delegate some more. Assign tasks to people that want to help. If you don't have a day of coordinator, designate someone to hand out tips, handle vendors, and keep track of your gifts!
  • Finalize the wedding day timeline and send it to the bridal party.
  • Check in one final time with your wedding photographer.
  • Get your final payments to all vendors together. Set up your tip envelopes and put them in a safe place to hand off to your day of coordinator.
  • Assemble all of your DIY elements. Chill some wine, order takeout, and make a party out of it by inviting your bridesmaids over to help.
  • Pick up wedding dress from tailor.
  • If you are leaving for the honeymoon immediately after the wedding, start packing now.
  • Schedule a massage and relax.
  • Have a final date night with you boo.

Don't forget to breath. You're almost there. I'm almost there. Yay!

Study Ranks Boston 3rd Best City for Newlyweds to Live

Posted by Angel Babbitt Harris September 13, 2013 08:25 AM

Newlyweds, do you think Boston is a "great" city to live?

We recently ranked 3rd in CreditDonkey.com's survey determining the 10 "best cities for newlyweds to live," coming in behind Atlanta and San Jose. According to the survey, Boston wins bragging rights for having low divorce rates (8.9%) and high credit scores (average of 702). We also work less, at an average of 34.3 hours a week. Being the capital of the first state to legalize gay marriage also makes Boston an attractive choice for same-sex newlyweds.

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Photo credit: Etsy

In deciding its 10 best, CreditDonkey looked at U.S. cities with populations over 1 million, and considered factors like percentage of married couples in the area, local divorce rates, average credit scores, and average number of hours worked per week.

Hmmmm.

So, living around other married couples with good credit is the key to wedded bliss? I beg to differ. It should be wherever the couple is happiest, right?

Interested in finding out what other cities made the list? Click here.

30 Days to 'I Do'

Posted by Angel Babbitt Harris September 12, 2013 10:30 AM

Our wedding is officially 30 days away, and in the straightforward words of my brother, who I spoke with this morning to wish a happy birthday,

"It's about to get real."

Any other brides-to-be out there at the one month mark? Here's a helpful checklist to keep by your side as you get closer to your wedding day:

A Month Before The Wedding...

  • Send out final payments to vendors.
  • Meet with your officiant to discuss the final order of service, musical selections, readings, etc. for the ceremony.
  • I've already started this one, but break in your wedding day shoes. Wear them around the house. Trust me, your feet will thank you!
  • Draft a wedding day timeline. This document is VERY important for your vendors, esp. your wedding planner/day-of coordinator.
  • Harrass Hunt down Stalk Politely contact those who have not yet RSVP'd to find out if they plan to attend. Once RSVP cards begin to come in, start the seating plan for the reception. Remember not to seat bickering family members next to each other!
  • Make sure bridesmaids and groomsmen have their outfits and accessories for the day of.
  • If you are like me and not hiring a DJ, create a music playlist. The Mister and I have a selection of songs for our cocktail hour and dinner music. Back the playlist up on another iPod/iPad...just in case.
  • Attend your final dress fitting.
  • Book a massage or spa service for the week of your wedding as a way to de-stress before the phone starts ringing off the hook with family members asking a million questions that could've been answered if they just visited the wedding website that you worked on for hours with the intention that people would check it and not call you! Sorry, I just had a moment. Let's get back to the checklist...
  • Get your marriage license.
  • Confirm all arrival/delivery times with vendors. Communicate this to your day-of coordinator.
  • Mail rehearsal dinner invitations.
  • Take advantage of every moment in between the wedding craziness to enjoy your partner. Squeeze in a date night. Remember the wedding is one day, the marriage is a lifetime!

Enjoy planning!

To first look, or not to first look?

Posted by Angel Babbitt Harris September 6, 2013 11:35 AM

I am a proud member of Team First Look and I recommend that every couple consider doing one on their wedding day.

What's a first look, anyway? Well, it goes a little something like this -- the moment when the bride and groom see each other for the first time before the ceremony, usually in a private setting, and a photographer captures it. The first look is a perfect opportunity to slip away from the hustle and bustle of your wedding day and share an intimate moment together. It's also a great way to manage your wedding day schedule. Getting these photos done before the ceremony allows you more time to spend with your guests during the cocktail hour and reception. A wedding photographer would also agree that a first look session gives them a chance to get creative and make the most out of the day's natural light.

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The 'old school' couples may disagree with me on this one. Some are just not interested in breaking tradition. Others believe the first look moment should happen when the groom sees the bride walking down the aisle. That's cute too, I guess, but wedding trends are moving more and more away from tradition by the minute. Today's modern couples are doing their own thing.

For us, we just want our wedding photographs to be the bomb.com! So, first look it is!

Readers, what do you think? Team 'first look'? Or team 'I'll catch up with you at the ceremony'?

The Other Barak and Michelle

Posted by Angel Babbitt Harris August 13, 2013 06:21 PM

Did you catch the recent Good Morning America segment on Barak and Michelle?

No, not POTUS and FLOTUS. Boston.com, meet the other Barak and Michelle:

The bride- and groom-to-be are planning to wed next year and, of course, it will only be appropriate to go with a presidential-theme complete with groomsmen dressed as Secret Service agents and reception tables named after all the wings in the White House!

Hey, Barak and Michelle, if you're looking for a wedding planner, CALL ME!

60 Days and Counting...

Posted by Angel Babbitt Harris August 13, 2013 11:49 AM

Yesterday marked the final two months before the Mister and I exchange vows. There are now less than 60 days separating me from one of the biggest decisions I will ever make in life. Oh joy!

Any other brides-to-be out there at the two month mark? Here's a helpful checklist to keep by your side as you get closer to your wedding day:

Two Months Before The Wedding...

  • Shop for your wedding bands.
  • Schedule your dress fittings. You may need 2-3 fittings depending on the type of alterations needed on your dress. Make sure you have the shoes you plan to wear on your wedding day as well as your undergarments with you at each fitting.
  • Reach out to your bridal party and communicate any last minute details or tasks.
  • Get your travel documents in order for honeymoon (ie passport, visa, drivers license, etc.).
  • For those writing your own wedding vows, start jotting down the vows now.
  • Do hair/make-up run with your stylist.
  • Finalize arrangements for the rehearsal dinner.
  • Finalize plans for bridal shower/bachelor party/couples shower.
  • Finalize wedding day music playlist or go over playlist with your DJ.
  • Hire a wedding coordinator.
  • Send out your wedding invitations.
  • Touch base with your vendors.
  • And, last but not least, ENJOY THE FINAL DAYS OF BEING ENGAGED. Even if everything doesn't go as planned (and it probably won't), you'll still be surrounded by those who love you and want to see you happy!

Enjoy planning!

Would you buy someone else's canceled wedding?

Posted by Angel Babbitt Harris August 10, 2013 11:42 AM

If so, Bridal Brokerage may have the wedding of your dreams.

Or, a wedding that was once another couple's dream that turned into a nightmare so now you can purchase it at a deep discount. How special...I guess.

Started in the summer of 2012, Charlottesville, VA-based website Bridal Brokerage currently has a database of roughly 2,500 engaged couples seeking a wedding for a bargain price. Vendors are also listed. I even found two photography deals right here in Massachusetts. Click here and here to learn more.

Many call the concept of buying canceled weddings a win-win for all parties involved. Bridal Brokerage matches couples who've decided not to get married who want to sell the services they've already purchased with budget-conscious couples who don't mind buying a wedding that once belonged to someone else. Bridal Brokerage gets a cut, the couple selling gets some of their money back, and the couple buying saves thousands of dollars in the process.

I must admit I'm still a little skeptical about this new market for weddings.

Wedding planning should be personal and unique to the couple, but I guess that all goes out the window if I can suddenly jump online and get Sally's $20,000 wedding for 50% off because she had to cancel after finding out her husband-to-be was cheating!

Not sure I want that type of karma following me into my new marriage, I'm just saying!

Weigh in Boston.com. Do you think this is a good idea?

Beware of Real-Life Wedding Crashers

Posted by Angel Babbitt Harris July 31, 2013 10:40 PM

We all laughed in 2005 when the movie Wedding Crashers debuted. It was hilarious watching Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn show up to weddings they were not invited to -- posing as distant relatives, preying on single women.

It's not so funny when this happens in real life. These days wedding crashers aren't only showing up for the open bar. They're walking out with gifts and envelopes full of cash!

In light of the recent rash of wedding crasher thefts in Minneapolis and Pennsylvania, I'd like to share a few basic tips on how to prevent this from happening at your wedding.

  • Never put your gift table by the main entrance or in an outside hallway at the venue. Position the table near where the couple will be seated during the reception. All eyes will be on the happy couple and the gift table.
  • Designate a close family member or elect someone in your bridal party to be 'in charge' of the gifts, especially the cards. If you hire a wedding planner, this would be a perfect task for them to manage.
  • If you plan to DIY your card box, thief-proof it. Make sure the box has an opening wide enough for cards and not hands!
  • If you have a large guest list you may want to hire extra security. I watched a recent episode of Newlyweds The First Year and one of the couples received over $40,000 in cash and checks from family and friends at their reception. Can you imagine if someone walked off with all that your cash?!
  • Consider buying wedding insurance from a company that will cover stolen gifts.

I know. Thinking about the possibility of this happening on the happiest day of your life sucks, but it does happen and it's better to be safe than sorry!

Happy planning!

Paying for Your Wedding: Cash vs. Credit

Posted by Angel Babbitt Harris July 25, 2013 04:31 PM

If you are part of the 42% of couples living in the Northeast who are financing their wedding themselves (like the Mister and me), I have one question for you: Cash or credit?

Staying in Your Financial Lane

"The way my bank account is set up, I got a checking and a savings, but all my money is in my savings so I gotta switch it to my checking..." - Comedian Kevin Hart

Most people like paying for things with cash. Cash is an easy concept. You either have it or you don't. With proper planning you can save it. The biggest advantage is that you are limited to what you can afford which helps you remain grounded and practical throughout the wedding planning process. After the wedding you can walk away debt-free. These are all compelling reasons to stick with cash when paying for your wedding expenses.

The Ease of Using a Credit Card

Using a credit card can also be an enticing option. Some may argue that the rewards and points you receive can go toward booking a honeymoon and/or offer great incentives. Others may find it easier to track wedding expenses when using one credit card. In some cases using a credit card just makes sense. What happens if your venue goes out of business before your wedding day? Putting a deposit on your credit card can offer you protection in the event of unexpected circumstances.

Throughout the wedding planning process I've been a fan of the 'Getting Married' podcasts hosted by MarketWatch's Kelli Grant and Wall Street Journal's Matthew Passy. These quick, witty podcasts offer helpful tips for all engaged couples.

Listen here for a recent podcast on the cash vs. credit debate.

Engaged couples: How are you paying for your wedding?

Married couples: Be honest. How many of you are STILL paying off debt from your wedding?

After the Altar with Tresa & Ed, Married 22 Years

Posted by Angel Babbitt Harris July 9, 2013 11:43 AM

It's the fifth week of "After the Altar," my summer blog series dedicated to celebrating the union of marriage and the beauty of love. I took a short break from blogging for the July 4th holiday, but I'm back with another married couple who will bravely share their challenges, triumphs, and secrets to wedded bliss.

We often focus on the work that goes into the wedding day -- the invitations, the cake, the dress, the guests. Let's give equal attention to the 'work' that takes place after the altar.

Boston.com, meet Tresa and Ed.

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Dorchester couple Tresa and Ed have been married for 22 years. That's what I call serious love. The simple and sound advice they offer is refreshing, and serves as a much needed reminder on the importance of communication. Let's see what they have to say.

Expertly Engaged: How did you meet?

Ed: We met while in college during a summer break. I attended Delaware State College and Tresa attended Northeastern University.

Expertly Engaged: If you could describe marriage in one word, what would you say?

Tresa & Ed: Marriage is love, but that goes without saying so the next word would be commitment.

Expertly Engaged: I once heard that a happy marriage requires more maintenance than a car. How do you maintain a happy and healthy marriage after 22 years?

Tresa & Ed: We are friends first. The euphoria that you experience when you first meet someone eventually wears off. Our friendship helps us to sustain our love for each other.

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Expertly Engaged: Has being married enhanced any part of your life as individuals? If so, what part?

Tresa & Ed: It is hard for us to isolate any one thing because there are so many instances in the past 22 years where we have been supportive of each other. So we’ll just say that we are better people because of each other.

Expertly Engaged: What advice would you give to all the newlywed and soon-to-wed out there?

Tresa & Ed: Communication is key. Never say things in the heat of the moment that would be hard to take back. Never tell each other what you want to hear but tell each other, respectfully, what you NEED to hear.

We're winding down to the final weeks of my summer blog series (insert sad face here), so be sure to send an email my way if you know a married couple whose relationship is all that and a bag of chips and feature ready for After the Altar!

After the Altar with Debby & Bruce, Married 20 Years

Posted by Angel Babbitt Harris June 28, 2013 11:51 PM

It's been a tough news week. Let's end it on a positive note.

It's the fourth week of "After the Altar," my summer blog series dedicated to celebrating the union of marriage and the beauty of love. Every Friday during June and July, I will highlight a married couple who will bravely share their challenges, triumphs, and secrets to wedded bliss.

We often focus on the work that goes into the wedding day -- the invitations, the cake, the dress, the guests. Let's give equal attention to the 'work' that takes place after the altar.

Boston.com, meet Debby and Bruce.

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Before we begin, let's raise a glass to Debby and Bruce. Next week they celebrate 20 years of marriage. Some of you may remember them from this article about extinguishing the anti-marriage movement that appeared in the Boston Globe last year. Today we continue the conversation with them and learn more of their wisdom and tips on how to maintain a long and happy marriage.

Expertly Engaged: How did you meet?

Debby & Bruce: At the bar at Dali Restaurant on the Somerville/Cambridge line.

Debby: I had ended a long-term relationship a year earlier and had no interest in ever being in a relationship again. Yet when I arrived early to meet friends at Dali, and decided to sit at the bar while I waited, I couldn't help but notice this really cute guy next to me. He was engaged in an intense conversation with a woman who I presumed was his girlfriend. I eavesdropped and with just about every word fell for his sense of humor. I remember thinking, "Now, if I could be with a guy like that, maybe I'd reconsider." When my friends arrived, it turned out they knew the woman he was with. We were introduced. The rest is history.

Bruce: She walked in and asked the bartender for a ginger ale. He said they didn't have any and she immediately said, "OK, give me a beer." I thought that was hilarious and said so. Before long we were talking (I remember it as being before being introduced by the friends) and laughing at a variety of off-color and off-beat humor points. I was very interested and when she had the brass to call me the next morning, I knew this was a girl I wanted to know.

Expertly Engaged: If you could describe marriage in one word, what would you say?

Debby & Bruce: We can't agree on "journey" or "evolution." It's a "process," but that word's too unsexy.

Expertly Engaged: I once heard that a happy marriage requires more maintenance than a car. How do you maintain a happy and healthy marriage after 20 years?

Debby & Bruce: See the other person as separate, with their own goals, quirks, and baggage, and find a way to balance their needs with your own. Remember how fortunate you are to have found each other and how the other has helped you become the (better) person you are today. Do not expect a problem-free marriage, but rather learn how to navigate and communicate your way through the inevitable rough spots. And always make time to be together as a couple, doing things you both love.

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Expertly Engaged: Has being marriage enhanced any part of your life as individuals? If so, what part?

Debby: I came to our relationship with an inability to navigate conflict or deal with anger. Bruce had zero tolerance for the cold shoulder or sweeping issues under the rug so I quickly (though not easily) learned to face our differences of opinion head on. He also didn't conform to the strict social code of my childhood, so I had to learn that there are many ways of being in the world, and mine wasn't necessarily the only or best way. Finally, he's the most fun person on the planet. I think I'd have become an uptight old lady if he hadn't come along and loosened me up.

Bruce: Although I am indeed a wonderful person, I was wrong in thinking I was right about most things. Debby, through the kind of blunt advice only a best friend can give, encouraged me to do something, by myself, to learn why I kept unhappily crashing against the same things in my life. She made it safe for me to let down my guard and evolve, the process of which began during a week-long personal retreat.

Expertly Engaged: What advice would you give to all the newlywed and soon-to-be-wed out there?

Debby & Bruce: Learn the benefits of not digging in your heels. Expect to learn things about yourself rather than win arguments for yourself. Look for ways to take marriage seriously and not too seriously all at once. Keep your friends--you'll need them.

Do you know a married couple whose relationship is all that and a bag of chips? Is your marriage blog-worthy and feature ready for After the Altar? Email me. I'd love to hear your story.

After the Altar with Feyisara & Hans, Married 2 Years

Posted by Angel Babbitt Harris June 21, 2013 07:58 PM

We've made it to the third week of "After the Altar," my summer blog series dedicated to celebrating the union of marriage and the beauty of love. Every Friday during June and July, I will highlight a married couple who will bravely share their challenges, triumphs, and secrets to wedded bliss.

We often focus on the work that goes into the wedding day -- the invitations, the cake, the dress, the guests. Let's give equal attention to the 'work' that takes place after the altar.

Boston.com, meet Feyisara and Hans.

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Feyisara described the day Hans proposed as magical. In June 2010 the couple took a trip to an all-inclusive resort in the Dominican Republic with some of their closest friends. Hans planned a romantic five-course dinner for two on the beach at sunset (fellas, are you taking notes?). After Feyisara was serenaded by the waiter, Hans professed his undying love for her, got on his knee in the Dominican sand, and asked for her hand in marriage! Feyisara recalls being completely shocked, but enthusiastically shouted "YES! YES!" It was perfection.

Expertly Engaged: How do you make it work 'after the altar'?

Feyisara & Hans: Marriage is definitely work. The type of work you make it depends on you. It can be fun work and hard work. The key to our success so far has been communication, being prayerful, and selflessness. We believe in God and we believe that he brought us together. We go to church together, pray together, and seek spiritual counsel when necessary. Neither one of us is a mind reader, so being willing to openly communicate your feelings is key to making our marriage work.

Expertly Engaged: Do you believe in date nights? Do you have other rituals or special activities that you reserve for one another?

Feyisara & Hans: Yes. We absolutely believe in date nights! We even developed an 'envelope system' to keep money allocated each month for us to spend on enjoying ourselves as a couple. In 2006, we started a ritual that we will always spend Christmas Eve night with each other as well as New Year's Eve together.

Expertly Engaged: Any advice for other newlyweds out there?

Feyisara & Hans: Even though it sounds cliche, communication is very important. Be patient with each other. It takes time and work to learn and understand your partner's communication style!

Do you know a married couple whose relationship is all that and a bag of chips? Is your marriage blog-worthy and feature ready for After the Altar? Email me. I'd love to hear your story.

Summer's Here and Brewlywed Ale is Back!

Posted by Angel Babbitt Harris June 21, 2013 11:08 AM

Happy first day of summer to all you beer-loving couples out there.

The limited edition Samuel Adams Brewlywed Ale is back by popular demand and will be available for sale on June 26 exclusively at the Boston Brewery. Created to celebrate the tradition of brewing at weddings, Brewlywed Ale is an alternative to the wine and cocktail selections found at most traditional weddings. The limited release, Belgian-style "bride ale" offers layers of flavor including tropical, floral aromas of Summer and Stella hops with subtle hints of spice.

Want in on this beer? Arrive early! There will only be 300 cases available for sale.

Here's a peek at the schedule:

Brewlywed Ale Day – Samuel Adams Boston Brewery, 30 Germania Street

WHEN: Wednesday, June 26, 2013; 9:00am – 1:00pm

7:00AM: Line up early. The first 50 people in line have the opportunity to purchase a bottle signed by Jim Koch. The first 20 people to arrive in bridal attire will be moved to the front of the line (guaranteeing one of those bottles!)

9:00AM: Toast from Jim Koch, brewery doors open and Samuel Adams Brewlywed Ale is for sale (while it lasts.)

9:00AM-1:00PM: Sampling of beer-infused wedding fare and pairing suggestions from local small business owners who are members of the Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream program, wedding advice from Anja Winikka, site director of TheKnot.com, wedding vendors, giveaways, a digital wedding photo booth and a justice of the peace at the brewery until 1 pm, maybe even some weddings!

1:00PM: Last call for alcohol. Brewlywed doors close at 1 p.m. (If any beer remains, drinkers may purchase at the brewery gift shop until 4 pm)

After the Altar with Kaidi & Chris, Married 22 Years

Posted by Angel Babbitt Harris June 14, 2013 08:22 AM

Happy Friday and welcome to another week of "After the Altar," my new summer blog series dedicated to celebrating the union of marriage and the beauty of love. Every Friday during June and July, I will highlight a married couple who will bravely share their challenges, triumphs, and secrets to wedded bliss.

We often focus on the work that goes into the wedding day -- the invitations, the cake, the dress, the guests. Let's give equal attention to the 'work' that takes place after the altar.

This week’s couple holds a special place in my heart because we share the same wedding date!

Boston.com, meet Kaidi and Chris.

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Roxbury couple Kaidi and Chris first met in the seventh grade. The year was 1982. Kaidi recalls that even back then there was a lovable romance and shares a time when a chance encounter led to a sweet kiss after school. They both joke and say that kiss was the ‘seed of their love.’ The couple reconnected in 1988. From that point forward a deep and passionate courtship began. Both shared a desire for justice worldwide and participated in boycotts against corporations in support of apartheid and fought racial injustice during the Charles Stuart case in the 80s. While students at Northeastern University, Chris realized that he couldn’t live his life without Kaidi. The couple wed on October 12, 1991.

Expertly Engaged: Longevity in a marriage takes work. How do you make is work 22 years ‘after the altar’?

Kaidi & Chris: This October will make 22 years of marriage. We’ve had great pastors, mentors, and elders who we owe so much. They encourage us to communicate, be considerate of one another, and make a lot of love! One principle that we practice in our relationship is to ALWAYS put our marriage first and parenting as a close second. We don’t allow the children to disintegrate our relationship (and those who have children can certainly relate to this one)! Specific things that help us keep the fire burning hot include listening to our favorite love songs from the 70s and 80s, working out and keeping our bodies fit, virtual flirting (yes…sexting), and allowing each other space to breathe and then coming back together again.

Expertly Engaged: Do you believe in date nights? Do you have other rituals or special activities that you reserve for one another?

Kaidi & Chris: Date night, smate night! We believe in sporadic getaways more than your standard date nights. We love to find low-key places to walk and share intellect. We love to worship and meditate in nature. We sing songs to each other and share our dreams and goals with each other.

Expertly Engaged: Any advice for all the newlyweds and soon-to-be newlyweds out there?

Kaidi & Chris: Our advice would be to make sure the foundation of your relationship is built on solid ground and not sand. The storms of life will tear down marriages built on fantasy. Our marriage is built on the teachings of Christ. This ancient wisdom has stood the test of 2,000+ years and has yielded us the most exciting and visceral experiences ever. At the end of the day it’s all about reconciliation and putting the other’s needs before your own. Enjoy your friendship and be explorative!

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Kaidi and Chris circa 1992!

Want more of Kaidi and Chris? Check out their new vlog series, For Lovers Only, launching next month on YouTube and Facebook!

Do you know a married couple whose relationship is all that and a bag of chips? Is your marriage blog-worthy and feature ready for After the Altar? Email me. I'd love to hear your story.

Expertly Engaged Chats with Kellee Khalil, CEO and Founder of Lover.ly

Posted by Angel Babbitt Harris June 11, 2013 02:58 PM

If you’re a bride-to-be chances are you’ve stalked Lover.ly, the highly addictive new resource where brides and grooms can "search, save, shop and share all things wedding all in one place."

Recently, I sat down with bridal maven Kellee Khalil, CEO and founder of Lover.ly, and chatted about her website, trends in the bridal industry, and wedding world domination.

Thumbnail image for kellee khalil LOVERLY.jpeg

What motivated you to start Lover.ly?

KK: I was inspired to start Lover.ly after going through the wedding planning process with my sister. I was her maid of honor, and I jokingly say sometimes the ‘Slave of Honor’ because it was 18 months of work – really hard work! We spent hours searching for inspiration and ideas and once we figured out the theme and color palette for the wedding, it was impossible to find a bridesmaid dress or accessories or hire the right florist to do the job. Most women experience this pain when planning a wedding, but our situation was unique. My sister runs Be Inspired PR and has access to some of the top wedding vendors in the industry yet we were STILL experiencing a hard time organizing it all! Everything in wedding planning requires a lot of detail and planning.

What should brides-to-be know about Lover.ly? How do you get on the website and search?

KK: Loverly is set up to simplify the process. We want it to be a delightful experience and not overwhelming for our users. Our homepage is updated five or six times a day with highly-curated content to help users get inspired for their wedding. One of the most popular features is exploring different color palettes and options from the color bar. Another fun new feature that just launched last week is a shuffle button called “Surprise Me.” Lover.ly’s shop portal has over 200,000 products from 1,800 brands to allow brides to shop directly from the website. It’s a great way to dive in and get inspired.

I recently downloaded the Lover.ly app onto my iPad. How important was it for you to move into the mobile market?

KK: For Lover.ly, we want to be where our brides are. Last year, 20% of our users accessed the website via their mobile phones. This year that amount increased to 30%.

What are the top three wedding trends this week?

KK: The color mint is still quite popular right now. There has also been a general shift back to traditional and classic weddings. The art deco and 1920s look (thanks to the movie, Great Gatsby) is still quite popular, too!

One of my favorite articles on you was in Forbes where you discussed the notion of being a woman in the tech world and tearing down the ‘pink ghetto.’ What does being a woman in the tech world mean to you?

KK: When I first started Lover.ly I was really naïve to the fact that women were seen differently than men. I came from the world of finance where it was all about performance – you sold the most, made the most, and it garnered you the most respect. Initially, when I first entered the tech world I didn’t realize there was such a disconnect between me walking into a meeting and people instantly discounting me because I am a girl and because I like to wear pink lipstick and stilettos. I had to push that much harder so that people could think that I was credible. I believe in the importance of mentoring, especially other women who may be starting out as entrepreneurs. Often times it’s just about being visible and showing people that you are out there doing the work.

What does the next six months and beyond hold for Lover.ly?

KK: We’re on a mission of total wedding world domination! So, that’s the long-term plan. In the next six months our focus is to continue to make our product more useful and helpful for women. We want to simplify this overwhelming process. We are constantly listening to our users, vendors, and partners to get feedback on what they would like to see to make the site better. We are continuing to work on updates to the mobile app. As far as the website, we plan to onboard new brand partners and layer on new features and tools to enhance the user experience. We are focused on making wedding planning easy for all parties involved: guests, relatives of the couple, and all the non-bride super users out there.

Bridal besties, the days of lugging around that dinosauric 3-ring binder are over. Dive in and get inspired by Lover.ly today!

Kelli, thank you for an amazing interview.

Readers, be sure to check out my ‘loves’ and ‘bundles’ at The Bridal BFF on Lover.ly.

After the Altar with Alicia & Kasim, Married 2 Years

Posted by Angel Babbitt Harris June 7, 2013 09:39 PM

Introducing "After the Altar," my new summer blog series dedicated to celebrating the union of marriage and the beauty of love. Every Friday during June and July, I will highlight a married couple who will bravely share their challenges, triumphs, and secrets to wedded bliss.

We often focus on the work that goes into the wedding day -- the invitations, the cake, the dress, the guests. Let's give equal attention to the 'work' that takes place after the altar.

Boston.com, meet Alicia and Kasim.

Alicia and Kasim.JPG

Dorchester couple Alicia and Kasim met in 2009 during a New Year's Eve church service. They exchanged vows in 2011. During my interview with the couple, Kasim vividly shared how special it was when Alicia surprised him with a sweet serenade and a live band on their wedding day. Alicia's unforgettable moments on that day include walking down the aisle and lovingly looking into her husband's eyes while singing along with him during their first dance. How romantic!

Expertly Engaged: What are some of the biggest challenges/adjustments that you are facing after the altar?

Alica & Kasim: Co-parenting and adapting to two lives becoming one.Your life is not your own anymore so understanding that now it's about building your lives together and not just thinking "ME, ME, ME!" Your mentality has to change. Communication, of course, is a work in progress.

Expertly Engaged: What qualities are key to having a happy and healthy marriage?

Alicia & Kasim: Prayer, communication, friendship, commitment to each other, learning how to forgive, learning to not hold onto things that will bother you, and having fun with each other. If you can't laugh through it then it's going to be really hard. Understand that you both compliment each other and that no one is perfect. Treat each other with love even during the hard times.

Expertly Engaged: Any advice for other newlyweds out there?

Alicia & Kasim: Be life partners, work at it together, be willing to fight for your marriage because tests will come. Accept each other for who you really are and not for what you want that person to be; commitment and love is a decision, decide to win. Sprinkle love and kindness even in the midst of anger; agree to always make up; it's not always about being right it's about hearing each other out and acknowledging each others different perspectives.

Alicia: Ladies, men need romance, too!

Kasim: Men, show your wife the reason why she married you. Don't get too comfortable with each other!

Alicia & Kasim: Above all, pray for each other daily and keep God first and you will not go wrong.

Do you know a married couple whose relationship is all that and a bag of chips? Is your marriage blog-worthy and feature ready for After the Altar? Email me. I'd love to hear your story.

His parents, her parents, your parents: When should a couple's parents meet?

Posted by Angel Babbitt Harris May 30, 2013 07:58 AM

So, when should an engaged couple's parents meet? Would it be too late to make the introduction at the wedding? Is it rare for parents to not meet before the wedding?

These questions came up during a recent conversation over a slab of ribs at a Memorial Day cookout I attended at my FMIL's (future mother-in-law) house. The ribs were amazing. The barrage of questions from the FMIL inquiring why she hasn't met my mother yet -- not so much. I was slightly stressed out by it all!

Needless to say, the FMIL is anxious to meet my mother. The introduction hasn't happened yet. It's not because I don't want it to. It just hasn't happened. Yet.

My mother works all the time. His mother is retired. The last get together we attempted to arrange was at our catering tasting a few months ago. My mother picked up an extra shift at work so the meeting never happened. And with four months to go, the Mister and I realize that we have to try harder to set up this parental meet and greet to avoid any uncomfortable feelings on our wedding day.

For the record, we've met each other's families. They've just never been in the same room together. Family is important to both of us. It's one of the main reasons why we are having this wedding. We want our families to celebrate this special time with us. If not for our families, we would have eloped a long time ago! I personally don't think it would be the worst thing in the world if our mothers met on the wedding day.

Boston.com, help me out with this one. When did you introduce your parents to the future in-laws? Any other married couples out there wait until the wedding day?

A scene from one of my favorite wedding movies, Jumping the Broom, when the mothers meet for the first time.

Target Launches New Bridal Collection

Posted by Angel Babbitt Harris May 23, 2013 11:54 AM

Just when I thought I had my 'Tarjay' addiction under control...

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On Tuesday, Target launched TEVOLIO, a new collection of bridal wear sold exclusively on Target.com. TEVOLIO features a line of four affordable wedding dresses ranging in price from $69.99 to $129.99 -- budget-conscious brides-to-be everywhere rejoice! In addition to the bridal gown styles, TEVOLIO also features customizable dresses for the entire bridal party.

I enjoy the simple and modern design aesthetic coming out of this collection. These dresses would be ideal for a summer elopement or a carefree and casual outdoor wedding. Target is also becoming a more preferred place where fashionista-in-training types go to shop on a dime.

Noteworthy point: TEVOLIO offers each gown in a range of sizes spanning from 2 to 18!

This news comes just in time as I prepare to go wedding dress shopping tomorrow (I know, I'm cutting it way too close to the wedding date!). I hope to find the perfect dress for me, but it's good to know Target is providing a cost-effective back-up plan!

Check out the collection here.

About this blog

Angel Babbitt Harris, formerly of the Expertly Engaged blog, is now "Newly Wed" and learning how to navigate life as a happy wife. Angel lives for weekend getaways to Brooklyn with her husband and anything currently playing on Netflix. She works as a Marketing Manager for a non-profit organization in Boston. Need newlywed advice? Have newlywed advice to give? Reach Angel directly at angelharris1020@gmail.com or tweet her at @MrsHarrisTweets.

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