Two of My Favorite Books for Newlyweds!

Marriage is wonderful but it also comes with a learning curve. Partners think differently and are shaped by our own experiences, personalities and beliefs. One of the key components of marriage is the ability to step outside yourself and see situations from your spouse’s perspective.

Here are two resources that help with just that! Read on to find out more about two of my favorite marriage must have books!

Now of course there will also be individuals that don’t fit into a generalization but I found this book to be spot on. It really helped me understand my husband’s perspective and strengths. I also shared the information with him to explain why certain things tend to come more easily to me and other things not so much! This book answers time tested questions such as, “Why can’t my husband find anything in the refrigerator?” and “Why is it that I can listen to four conversations at once in a diner but my husband needs silence for one?” It’s not idiosyncrasies…it’s science! This husband and wife author team use both their voices and perspectives to create a book based on the science of the female and male brain to explain what each needs, excels and struggles with in day to day life and the biological reasons behind it all. There is even a quiz for you and your partner to take to examine your own brain needs. It is a quick read with many visuals to break down complicated concepts.


This book isn’t just great for marriages…it is a wonderful resource for understanding  all of your loved ones. The idea is that we all view , give and feel love based on our own love language. Sometimes couples (or even children and relatives) do not have the same love language and miss the signs of love that they should be receiving…or sharing. Knowing your own love language is important to helping your spouse understand what you look for to feel loved and how you show it. Perhaps your love language is doing service acts. You pack your spouse lunch, you drop off their mail at the post office, you let them sleep in and handle the morning routine. You may expect those same things in return to feel loved but maybe your spouse’s love language is spending time with you. They may expect you to sleep in with them in the morning, pack lunches together, plan errands to do with each other…same message..LOVE but different languages. This book is such an important read. It really changes the way you receive and do little things each day. It can help you see your loved ones with new eyes and a new appreciation.

Wedding Budget Tips: When to Splurge and When to Purge…

Planning a wedding is all about compromise…usually within yourself! You have to tell the good angel and the bad angel when to break out the checkbook and when to put it away. You have to find the balance of splurging on the things that matter most to you and knowing when to cut back on others. Financial priority should be assigned to the elements that are the most important and representative of you as a couple. However, there are some general guidelines, I believe, that should be used for spending to ensure that your day is not only memorable for you but for your guests as well.


WHEN TO SPLURGE: I can pretty much guarantee these are the items your guests will be walking away remembering the most. I an also say with full confidence that the following details are things that you and your beau will be glad you invested extra cash in later!:


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1. The Food- Food is everything! That doesn’t mean it has to be overly expensive and fancy though. You don’t have to serve French cuisine at your wedding but you do want to make sure it tastes good! You also don’t need to have enough food to feed a small country. Keep your menu simple if needed but just make sure everything tastes good and that there is enough for the guests to be satisfied. I have been to fancy venues where the food was okay. I have also been to backyard weddings that served the most delicious pulled pork sandwiches and homemade wedding cake! You can have family help out with the food if your budget is strict. Nobody will miss the filet mignon if the food you serve makes them sit back and say, “Man this is good!”. If you are using a venue or a caterer, you MUST have a tasting first! This ensures that our selections are just as tasty as they sound on paper!

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2. The Music- Music sets the tone for the night! You will want a DJ (cheaper than a band by far…although bands are awesome!) that can balance a variety of music and keep the crowd hyped and happy. Good music pumps energy into your crowd and keeps them there till the very end. Here you show your personality through song selections (see my previous post about using music to customize your wedding) but you also want to make sure that the music reflects your crowd so that there is something for everyone. You don’t need a DJ with a crazy lighting system and lots of bells and whistles. You do need a DJ with a great song selection and personality!

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3. The Photography- Yes, you can save money and put disposable cameras out on the tables and have guests take pictures but you may be taking a big risk! It will be impossible to use those in digital a;bums plus you are risking a plethora of shots you will never want or need! Your best bet is to find a PROFESSIONAL wedding photographer. Perhaps you can work out a deal where you only get the rights to the digital images and you can create your album yourself using sites such as Shutterfly or Snapfish. It pays to have good pictures though. You want these to be timeless. Wedding photographers can capture the emotion, beauty and subtle important details of one of the most important days of your life. Great pictures are worth every penny!

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4. Service- Read reviews of your venue! Good service makes a huge difference. Nobody wants to wait for orders, have their tables overcrowded with dishes and use dirty restrooms! You can utilize a buffet or cocktail style dinner but make sure that the food is easily accessible and that you have a plan in mind for getting food on and off the tables. Good service doesn’t have to be expensive but it’s worth paying for a couple of hands to help you out even if you are doing a DYI backyard wedding (and those usually have awesome service!).


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5. YOUR DRESS!!!!- That’s right! Get selfish! Everyone remembers what the bride looked like, very few remember the groom’s tux, hair…etc.! This is your night to be a princess and feel like a star! You can splurge on a dress that makes you feel beautiful. If you happen to find one for an amazing deal, even better! However, make sure the dress makes you feel confident, romantic and stunning. You deserve it!


WHEN TO PURGE: Here are some of the areas I think it is easier to cut back without lessening your experience and the overall guest experience.

1. Invitations- Most pieces wind up in recycling no matter how expensive or fancy! Pick something you like and that is affordable!

2. Centerpieces/Flowers I have attended two weddings recently that used the centerpieces that came in the venue package. Nobody cared! The centerpieces don’t make or break the experience! Save some major money here!

3. Favors- Pick something useful, fun and inexpensive! Most people don’t “need” their favors so don’t think you have to choose something over the top and expensive. One of my favorite weddings favors I received was a one dollar scratch off ticket with a penny!

4. Videography- Here you can have a friend film the most important parts only (such as the ceremony, cake cutting and toasts). You won’t sit down and watch a 12 hour video of your wedding…EVER.

5. Your Accessories- That means your shoes, hair accessories and jewels! No one is staring at them as much because your dress is the focus! The best accessory for a dress is great hair and make up! Invest in those and consider costume jewelry and sale items for the rest!

Tips on Choosing and Using a Wedding Photographer



When I was researching photographers for our big day, I may have went a smidge overboard. I researched our future photographer so intensely that I knew all the studios he had worked under, how long he had been at his current studio, his studio that closed and I had printed out every review I could find. I also came in with a list of questions. Why? I had heard too many horror stories of couples who never received their pictures due to their photographers claiming bankruptcy or skipping town. I personally know FOUR couples that this happened to and I didn’t want to risk it. I also just recently had a photography studio shutdown after taking Christmas photos of my newborn son…needless to say those pictures are gone too. =(


Now you don’t have to hire a private detective but here are some tips to make sure that you and your photographer have a good, trustworthy relationship and that you are receiving everything in the package that you will want and need after the big day.

We displayed pictures in frames from our house to decorate the reception and area and make it feel cozier. Our photographer gave us an engagement poster for guests to sign for free. Total cost = $0!

Our photographers took this shot. You can see our engagement poster that they included for guests to sign. The engagement shoot gave us a great opportunity to learn about our photographers’ work and personalities.

  • Google Them! : Research the studios name and the photographers names. This will tell you if they had other studios and how long those studios were in business. Maybe your photographer left a studio to open one on his own, maybe there is a history of jumping ship. Either way it is important to know and to ask!


  • Ask to see reception photos from previous clients. : With all the amazing photo software out there it is easy to take portraits and pictures when people are posing or in low action mode (such as a ceremony). The real challenge comes from capturing photos when the subjects are unaware or really active (such as an entrance, cake cutting or dancing). Reception photos will tell the story of your potential photographers photo skills and style.


  • Ask about style.: I love photojournalistic photographers. I must have had that stamped on my forehead because all five of my potential photographers said that was their style. However, as I looked through the books of two of them I didn’t see ANY photojournalistic photos. I even tried looking through other albums but there was no evidence of this style. All the albums were collections of posed pictures and portraits. Be sure to look through samples of your photographers work and as them what style they prefer. Your photographer may say one thing but the work may demonstrate another.


  • Ask about proofs.: Are the proofs digital? Are they hardcopy? Digital prints may be easier to look at initially but hardcover prints are easier to envision in album pages if you are picking yourself. However, the print digital copy is better to have in the longterm especially if the words PROOF aren’t written across each image.


  • Do you have rights to the pictures after?: This is KEY. Not all the photographers give you the rights to the pictures. I HIGHLY suggest you find a photographer who will. This will cut down on your costs big time. Printing through the photographer is almost ten times more expensive than printing yourself through online services. Most photographers don’t want to be involved in the printing either. They just want to focus on the work. Having rights to the pictures, especially in a digital form, will allow you to make thank you cards, parent albums and even just prints for yourself and your home. KEY!!!


  • Who will be your photographer?: You have to ask. We found out that our photographers (whose work we loved) had to be specifically requested or other freelance photographers who work through them would be used. Make sure you are getting the exact photographer you want!


  • Do a test run with an engagement shoot.: Ask your photographer if they will do an engagement photo shoot for free or for a discount. This will help you see their style and quality ahead of time. It will also let you know if you are a good personality match since you will be spending lots of time together on the big day!


  • Create a list of must have shots!: Every bride is different and you can’t assume that the photographer will read your mind. Create a list of shots you must have so that you aren’t disappointed after. Include specific names and maybe even thumbnail photos so it easier to find them on the day of the affair.


  • Add them to your guest list!: It is a common courtesy to feed your photographer! They are usually half price but be sure to include them in the count as vendors!


  • Ask about hours: How long will they stay? This is important because many only stay 4-6 hours. You may want them longer if you are doing before ceremony to the cake cutting!


  • How many photographers does the package include?: One is fine and can produce beautiful work. Two photographers allow them to shoot the reception hall and groomsmen while the bride is getting ready and also having pictures done. I find it to be a bonus and ease of mind to have two photographers. I also didn’t find a large price difference for two.


  • What does your package include?: Find out specifically so there are no surprises. Have it written out in detail.


  • Look for reviews.: Check out their Facebook Page, Wedding Wire and other wedding sites to hear feedback from actual customers. Don’t just look at the quality of work but also how easy they were to work with on the special day.


  • Don’t forget your friends!: Your friends are an incredible resource and won’t steer you wrong! Ask to see their wedding albums and ask them about their experiences.


  • Ask your reception hall.: Usually reception halls are familiar with many photographers. The bonus here is that they are connected to your hall so they should have a relationship. It also means that your photographer is familiar with the venue and will even have samples of work taken in your actual venue. BONUS! Sometimes you also get a discount for working with the venue connected photographer.


  • How long do you have to choose an album?: We had a year which was plenty of time. Know your time frame so you won’t miss it!


  • Give permission to take a break,: We were a little overwhelmed taking so many portraits after our ceremony. My husband and I hit a point where we just wanted to enjoy cocktail hour. We told our photographer and he was a little upset because he thought we would complain that we didn’t have enough photos. We had plenty! We had to reassure him that we were okay and felt good. We just wanted to join our day. This is their job and they want to do it well so the photographers may forget that you want to spend some time not under the lens. Take that into consideration.


  • Ask if you can have a discount on parent albums if they are duplicates.: We did and we received!


  • Discuss any concerns ahead of time.: I have a huge blinking issue and we discussed it before our wedding. I felt comfortable knowing that they were considering light and options to prevent it!


You will see your photographer probably more than any other vendor before, during and after the big day. Doing research and building a relationship will help you ensure that the day is a success for both of you and leave you with beautiful memories to fill your albums and walls with for years to come!

Also, I make sure I research any vendor that I recommend on this site. I will always try my best to point you in the right direction!

* This article is the intellectual property of Kelly Maver and copyrighted. All copies or references must include the original author and website.

Top Ten Tips for Saving Money on a Wedding!




1. Create a budget. The Knot has an awesome budget tool where you can put in your total budget and it allocates how much should be spent in each area. You then can adjust the areas to emphasize which take more priority than others. As you enter amounts, the budget tool automatically adjusts your remaining balance and totals for you. This is a must!

2. Plan ahead! Pick your theme, color and date at least one year ahead. This way you can shop season end clearances for your wedding’s seasonal items AND have time to wait for things to go on sale!

3. Don’t use Save the Dates: You don’t need them! If you want them, they can be fun and cute…but you don’t need them!

4. Make your own invitations: Really beautiful invitations can be made with a simple word processing or scrapbooking software. You can make 100 invitations for under $80 and still have them look customized and beautiful! Embellishments from craft stores and computer graphics can be used to inexpensively design memorable invitations with little experience!

5. Look for favors, shoes and jewelry outside bridal stores. You can usually get these items for almost 75% outside bridal shops because they aren’t tagged as “wedding” but they can still be used perfectly as wedding items. For instance, wine glasses in a favor shop may run $4-$8 a glass. However, you can buy painted wine glasses in your theme for about $1.99 at a non-bridal shop.

6. Check out Craigslist! Many brides sell items they won’t want to keep forever (such as flower girl baskets, aisle runners, extra favors, extra centerpieces, ring bearer pillows) for half the cost. You can also rent centerpieces from former brides!

7. Choose your items and wait for the sale. Everything goes on sale at least once…I am convinced…If you wait for it, it will come.

8. Plan a black and white wedding. This color combination is classy, varies the least and can be found everywhere even beyond bridal shops …which means you save money!

9. Register and use the rewards. Many registries offer incentives such as jewlery discounts, bridal salon discounts and cash back on your total registry purchases (ahem Macys!). Many also give you coupons that will help you save on things such as your honeymoon clothing and wedding jewelry.

10. Delay your honeymoon. Plan it for the off peak season and save some serious dough! Plus it will give you something else to look forward to in the future!


And now for a couple of bonus tips!

* Visit bridal shows and expos. The entry is usually free and they are a GREAT opportunity to comparison shop, find inspiration (that you can later adapt to your budget or own handiwork), win prizes and score some exclusive discounts and freebies. Plus…they are fun! Enjoy being bride and soak up the attention and perks!


** Have you tried Ebates yet? Ebates is an awesome program where you earn money back in gift cards for things you are buying online! It is free to join and you earn for every purchase you make. There are also special days where you can earn as much as 10% back! You also get special access to coupon codes. Stores such as Nordstroms, Macys, Vistaprint and Jo Ann Fabrics (plus thousands more!) are all included! I used Ebates while Christmas shopping this year and I made an additional $30 on things I was buying anyway! You get to choose your payment options too and receive bonus payments of $5 with any first purchase through Ebates. You don’t need a credit card or anything to join. You just sign up! When you are going to a site to make a purchase, go through Ebates first to search for the store and then continue to the store’s site. It’s that easy. If you are printing your own programs and invitations, you should check out some of their online ink dealers. I get my ink for 55% off through Ebates and their ink supply store partners! You can use the gift cards that you earn to buy gifts for your bridal party or even more things for the wedding! In the bridal planning world, it pays to shop online!


Sign up and check out Ebates here!




* Another great site for brides to be is a spot called Wedding Wire. Wedding Wire allows you to research reviews of your vendors, venues, salons and more from real brides in your area! You can search by name or by location. I found this really helpful when researching a salon and our photographer. Check them out here!

         If you are looking for FREE printables and how-to’s for your wedding, check out the DIY Bride site! This site offers free water bottle labels, booklet templates, wedding clip art and more! Every little bit helps! Plus there are also tutorials on how to make inexpensive items such as tin can luminarias, a list of popular wedding songs, templates for favor boxes and more! I love the wedding coloring book that you can print out for the little kids! Check out the site here!

All information listed in this post is the intellectual property of Please do not duplicate without permission.