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AFTER THE ALTAR

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.

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.

Tresa and Ed.jpg

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.

Debby+Bruce wedding.JPG

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.

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.

Kaidi and Chris current.jpg

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!

Kaidi and Chris back in the day.jpg

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.

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.

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