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Category Archives: weddings

The Girl Was Alright With Him: Thinking of Daddy on Father’s Day

by SweetMidlife

Daddy and me

Hi! It’s Lynne. Haven’t written in awhile. We say that a lot, since there have been long stretches between when we actually do write. But I really wanted to today, because it’s Father’s Day, and our Daddy has been on my mind a lot this week. Actually, he is on my mind every day,  as he has been over the last 4 years since he passed away. We’ve written a lot about him over the years, and how awesome he was, and about grief and loss, but I had another thought that I haven’t been able to verbalize until now, and I wanted to share it. Cool?

Every year, either on my dad’s birthday, or Father’s Day, or on the anniversary of the day he died, I post a video of me and him dancing at my 2010 wedding. It’s a really, really sweet video that was shot by my friend Patrise on her phone, and when she recorded it and shared it, she had no idea how I was going to cling to that video over the years to see my dad swaying, and smiling, and singing. And as I was preparing to look for the video and re-post it on Facebook, I started thinking about how we picked the song we picked. No, actually it was the song HE picked.

See, I had been kinda planning my wedding my whole entire life, cataloging things that I thought I might want to use whenever that day happened, like the style of cake, or the dress, or what I would walk down the aisle to. I sometimes put thought into WHO I would marry, and that, like those other details, didn’t wind up working out like I planned either, which is good, because when you meet the right person, which I did when I met Arthur Childress, those other things hopefully become what you both want, and the celebration is now based not on old dreams, but on your happy reality. Such was the case, too, with the song for the daughter/daddy dance. I immediately thought of “The Sweetest Days” by Vanessa Williams, which is a gorgeous, beautiful, makes-me-cry song about looking at your life and realizing that what you have right now is, well, sweet. This is a song that Daddy and I used to sing together when it came on in the car when it came out 20 years ago, so while we were wedding-planning, I figured that this was perfect.

It should also be noted here that my dad, at this point, was 2 years into his fight with cancer, and that he, at this point, was having a lot of good days, and a lot of bad days, and during the months leading up to my wedding, was not having good days. So if my dad was straight to the point about things his whole life, he was absolutely not mucking around now about the things that he wanted or didn’t want, because he knew how precious time was. So this is how the conversation went about the dance music.

Me: Hey, Daddy! You know what we should dance to? “The Sweetest Days”by Vanessa Williams! Isn’t that awesome?
Daddy: No. I want “The Girl’s Alright With Me” by The Temptations.
Me: (pause because I did not see it going down like that) Really? But you love that Vanessa song.
Daddy: Yes. But I want “The Girl’s Alright With Me”.
Me: Well, umm, how about “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)”by Marvin Gaye? More people know that song.
Daddy: I don’t care. I want “The Girl’s Alright With Me”.
Me: (realizing that this was done) Okay, cool. We will tell the DJ.

And on that beautiful October day, that’s what Daddy and I danced to. I used to love to tell the story of how insistent he was, because he loved that song, but I never really put into words what I thought he was trying to say with picking that song. And since he isn’t here for me to confirm my thoughts, this is my supposition of all that. I think I am right.

Daddy didn’t care about what songs were popular, or who else could sing along with us during that moment, and that is because that moment was about me and him. It was about our love radiating so much that people would see what we meant to each other. And in that moment, Daddy was telling me that me, the girl in question, was alright with him. I always knew that my Daddy loved me, and he always told me that I was beautiful, even when I didn’t believe it, but him picking this song, on that special day, was a signal to everyone, but mostly to me, that he thought I had done good with my life. That even with all of the questionable choices I had made with money, and with bad housing decisions, and with car accidents, and not always doing things right, that in the sum total of everything, I was alright with him. And with him picking the language of his idols, The Temptations, to tell me that, was awesome. I also think that because Daddy wasn’t feeling great, even though he was still fighting, that he wanted to put all of that stuff out on the table. And on the dance floor. And he did. And we did. And it was awesome.  I was alright with him. More than alright. And I will cherish that forever.

Would you be “Married By Mom and Dad?” Probably not. But maybe….

by SweetMidlife


This is Leslie, and as you might have read, I was married until about five months ago, and then, completely involuntarily, I was suddenly not. (He was awesome but he passed away. It’s a whole thing. Read HERE for the sad story I don’t feel like telling over right now, because we were having so much fun, weren’t we?)

I’m only 44 years old, so I imagine that at some point I’ll hopefully meet some other suitable man – Unlike before I met my husband, I’ve got standards now! – but am still feeling so married to my other guy, and so weary of the whole prospect of falling back into the rancid sinkhole that was my pre-marriage Internet dating situation, that I’ve told my friends that when the time is right they’re gonna have to shake the trees and introduce me to someone. (Someone good. Again, I’ve got standards now!) I know now what a good marriage is supposed to be, and in what ways I’d gotten in my own way when looking the last time. I trust my amazing and brutally, brutally honest village of friends to steer me in the right direction.

But the question that TLC’s “Married By Mom and Dad” asks is whether a modern woman or man would let someone else – their parents, specifically – not only steer you in the right direction, but pick the destination, park the car, carry you up the stairs, select the room and then lock you inside with a key you don’t have a copy of. Four singles – Mitch, Marivic, John and Christina – allow  their folks to narrow down a list of potential matches, meet them, winnow them down some more and then suggest they marry. The situations vary – all of them are between their mid-20s and early 30s, never married and with different expectations. Marivic is a nurse who lives at home and seems, honestly, brattier and less cool than her parents. Mitch is a super-pretty Ken doll wine rep, whose dad and stepmom have reluctantly teamed with his mom, who they all went to high school with (!) to find him a woman. John, like Marivic, is sort of a blur when compared to his outsized, outdoorsy parents, and Christina comes off kind of lame and immature, honestly.

The show reminds one instantly of “Married At First Sight,” another reality show about people leaving their romantic decisions up to someone else, except here that someone else is not the parents who raised and know you, but some complete strangers who do science math calculation situations to find you a match. And the stakes are way higher – at least with mom and dad, you get to meet the person before saying “I do” – but here you don’t meet your spouse until you’re at the altar, and then you’re in a legally binding marriage that’s not annul-able (the scientists seem practically giddy when they say that, like “What you gonna do now, girl? WHATUGONNADO?”). This of course leads to panic and drama and ridiculousness that makes great TV and horrible real life.

The producers of “Married At First Sight” maintain that they are a more scientific and therefore better version of traditional arranged marriage, but I think they’re full of this. This is like letting that EHarmony algorithm and the dude in the commercials with the glasses do your profile, have all the conversations online and then drive you to the wedding, and after you sign the release, because you’re an idiot, there’s nothing to do but settle in for the discovery and the humiliation. I actually prefer “Maried By Mom and Dad,” even though I cannot fathom a moment where I’d let, say, my mom and my Uncles Lester and Andre arrange my marriage. I can’t imagine what that person would look like, talk like, do for a living or explore in his spare time, but I know one thing – the pickers in question love me. They saw my heart break this year and would never throw me at some person they did not truly believe would be a great fit not only with me, but with my family, my culture and my life.

Understand: YOU GIRL IS NEVER GOING ON “MARRIED BY MOM AND DAD.” But I can see why one would. One who is not me.

Solange, my sister and me: Rocking our natural hair down the aisle

by SweetMidlife

Leslie here!

So the talk of the Internet in the past few days – well, some of the talk, anyway – has been about Solange Knowles and her fierce, fierce wedding style. Lynne and I were so impressed, we were both wondering if we could get remarried so we could rock fly wedding capes. And that all-white attire rule for the guests made everyone look like they were posing for some lost ’90s TV movie called “A Very EnVogue Wedding,” a videotape which I would totally have owned.

So caught up was I in the capes and the monochromatic wedding guests that I plum near missed another aspect that some people found notable in both good and hideous ways: Solange’s gorgeous, gorgeous wedding Afro. Although she’s straightened her hair occasionally, Miss Knowles’ tall proud crown of queenly poof is her signature, so I didn’t even notice it in the wedding photos, other than that it added to her fierceness.

And why shouldn’t she wear her hair natural? She’s a beautiful woman. Why shouldn’t she look like her on her most special day?

Apparently, some people disagree. Those people are cordially invited to…well….obviously their opinions are of no tangible use to Miss Knowles, who is a diva and don’t care. But as the young lady above can attest , the Web was wild with ignorant folks who had rather strong objections to Solange having not straightened her hair before saying “I do,” either because it’s not fancy or polished enough for such an auspicious occasion, or because they just don’t see it as polished enough for work, or the club, or yoga class or taking out the trash. You know, at all.

The Huffington Post story the beautiful Charnel Grey references in the video makes the same point – that it’s annoying to have to defend the way the hair comes out of your head, to black people, to white people, to anybody. A) It’s not your business B) We’re done changing for others. If we want a ‘fro, we’ll wear a ‘fro. If we want a weave, we’ll get a weave. Mind your own business and your own daggone hair.

Obviously, this is a topic Lynne and I both feel strongly about, because we both have natural hair – I with an Afro, and Lynne with her dreads. And having both been natural for a decade before getting married, neither of us even considered straightening for the day. I had thought about doing some sort of crazy updo, but at the end of the day, I let it ‘fro out even more than usual, and just went with it. I looked like the best version of me – better dress, better makeup, better jewelry. And a better ‘fro.

This pic wasn't their first date, but this was also a memorable one :).

A ‘fro for a fancy Palm Beach wedding

Lynne, meanwhile, let her dreads grow out and had them twisted into the most exquisite updo-drop-crown whatever that was. (She also rocked a veil, a rhinestone headband AND a big ol’ orange flower, to the objection of some people who thought it was too much. Knowing Lynne they should have known it was just enough.)

Loc'ing in on love.

Loc’ing in on love.

One of Lynne’s friends was talking about the whole Solange situation and, told that we’d both worn our hair natural for our weddings, suggested we write something about it, which got Lynne to tell her a story about another bride who wore the most smashing mod daisy-covered wedding dress for her 1970 wedding. And under the Minnie Mouse-esque veil, she wore a sleek Mia Farrow pixie…

Except that the day before she’d been wearing a ‘fro. But she bent to pressure from some older family members that it wasn’t appropriate, not special enough, for a wedding. Our Daddy told us that when he saw her at the rehearsal dinner his first thought was “Who’s that?” Because his bride was supposed to be wearing a ‘fro. Not for political reasons. Not for fashion reasons. But because that’s how she wore her hair, in her life as her, and that’s how she’d wanted to wear it when she married the love of her life. (Her sister and maid of honor, the late Aunt Ann, made up for it with her own Afro. Fly, fly fly).

Again, our mother looked amazing on her wedding day. But she didn’t look like she wanted to because she accepted the pressure that she had to change herself to be proper. I suspect she wouldn’t do that now. But as for you and your own wedding – if you want to get tracks, flatiron, shave your head, whatever, do it. This is not a political speech. It’s a hug, a cry of love, that says “IT’S YOUR WEDDING. DO YOU. BE THE MOST EXCELLENT SPLENDID VERSION OF YOU. NOT OF WHAT YOUR MAMA OR YOUR SISTERS OR THE INTERNET SAY. BE YOU.”

And then you’ll never be more beautiful. Trust us.

The perfect-ish day, or the happy accidents of an awesome wedding

by SweetMidlife
See? This didn’t happen!

Leslie here!

When my sister and I first started this blog, back in the dark ages, or, like, three years ago, it was called “Bride At 35,” and was about the experience of being married in your later 30s and beyond, like we were. Eventually, we expanded the concept to be about the whole of being this age, whether it’s marriage, friendship, children, weight, hair, whether to wear nail polish, or just delicious cheesy carbs, filtered to our crone-ism wisdom that comes with age.

But we still love a wedding, maybe because they’re pretty or because we’ve been in so many of them – I’ve been a  bridesmaid 9 times, including several stints as Matron of Honor. That experience brought me to the most excellent of days this past Saturday, where I acted as my friends Kim and Matt’s day-of-wedding coordinator. I’m not the wedding planner because I didn’t plan anything – I’m much better at telling people what to do. And the first thing I told her when I accepted the challenge was this:

Something is going to go wrong.

This is not easy to hear, but I’ve learned it in my 20 year career as a bridesmaid, from the time in 1995 when all our shoes were dyes the exact same wrong color, or in 2010 when my husband, the groom-to-be and my sister raced around town looking for lemon curd for the wedding tea, or in 2008 when the track for “At Last,” which I was about to sing for the cake cutting, wouldn’t work, and somebody distracted the bride while I ran across the street to find my laptop. The more weddings I was in, the more I learned to take a breath and not freak out. Nobody got eaten by a shark. The pastor never got caught at customs. A sinkhole didn’t swallow the cake. My experience taught me to chill.

Hopefully, at every wedding (or party or funeral or Bat Mitzvah) the snafus are minor, like somebody left the extra programs at home, or the bride’s shoes need a polish…something easily fixable. And sometimes, it’s a little more pressing, like a member of the wedding party can’t get there, or a car carrying the bride breaks down, or stuff is just whack. My job was just to make sure that the fires that erupted were put out, with as little fuss or actual burns as possible.

So even though my wedding bossiness has previously been on a personally procured basis, this couple of kind people put me in charge of calling their caterer to confirm times, of hiring a bartender (I write about drinking, so I know a few), of observing the set-up of the DJ booth and the sweetheart table, and of grabbing the bride’s hand when a frog, whose kind she is not fond of, jumped on her dress as she and her new husband walked from the parking lot of the reception spot to make her entrance.

And it was amazing. The thing is, as many weddings as I’ve been involved in, stuff still didn’t go perfectly. And I didn’t do it alone – the bride’s cousin was my family point person and co-stuff-getter. Her brother was amazing, as was her mom. And her bridesmaids, led by her resourceful sister, sat on the floor of the reception space in their beautiful dresses, as guests milled around outside for the cocktail hour and cut their beautiful bouquets into flower arrangements, because that’s what the bride said she wanted and someone (me) hadn’t remembered. That was beautiful.

Did everything go right? Uh, no. Besides the frog and the thing with the flowers, it was overcast the whole day and when it started to spit rain on the outdoor ceremony, the string musicians almost had to leave for fear of damaging their beautiful instruments. There was some confusion over pins for the boutonnieres. Some dude from another rental company arrived at the hall as I was taping the place cards to the wall with non-sticky art tape (the bride’s sister’s genius idea) and insisted that some of the tables already set for the cocktail hour might be the ones he was there to retrieve. (They were not). And I missed a few things, like making sure that both bartenders were clear on what time they were expected.
But it all worked out, in some cases because of powers beyond me like the rain holding off (Thanks, God!), in others because of all the loving family Kim and Matt have, or because I was calm and just handled it, like when the restaurant they’d talked to about having a casual brunch with family the morning after the wedding didn’t remember, and I just walked to the place across the street that the groom had called as a replacement and said “Hey, my friend just called, can we make this work?”

And it did.

There are things that apparently zigged when they were to zag, even before I got there – Kim’s family figured it out – and the band played on (Well, the string duo played on). The day was saved. The vows were sealed. The dinner was delicious and “Jump Around” and “Easy” by the Commodores both happened.

It wasn’t flawless. But it was perfect.



Five-Minute Fridays: Last

by SweetMidlife

Leslie here! Here’s my Five-Minute Friday entry, which is the word “last”.


“My First, My Last, My Everything” is one of those wedding songs that you think about because of the commitment in the title, but don’t really examine. Maybe it’s that you hear it so much. Maybe it’s because “Ally McBeal” ruined it. I don’t know.

But it’s one of my favorites, in a giddy, almost surreal way, because it’s real. When you say that to someone, you should mean it. I always thrilled to such a manly man as Barry White and his big booming sexy voice making such a vulnerable declaration, because he was, you know, a man, and imagining that someone was his “first” at the age he was singing it…what does that mean? First sexual encounter? Not likely. First girlfriend? Nah.

Wait…it’s more powerful than that. Maybe it means that this person is so mindblowing and momentous that time started over. Clocks have no meaning. Every other person before this is a wisp, a figment, a thing that does not matter, because now you’ve met your someone and time has restarted.

And this person is the first. They will be the last. They are all-encompassing.

They are everything.

And that’s something to sing about.


When Weddings Attack….And Love Fights Back

by SweetMidlife

Lynne here! The following is the personal account of the activity and, well, craziness that surrounded the nuptials of our best friend/kinda triplet Nikki Turner Lewis and her now-husband, Sam. It really was like something out of a movie, except you couldn’t really write the stuff that happened. But darn it if it was not one of the loveliest weddings I have ever been to. The love that these two have? Well, it outweighed everything that went wrong. Which is good. Here is Nikki telling her story.

1. Sam had a stroke-like episode and couldn’t work for a while, so we had to re-plan the wedding in about a month.

2. Due to his medical problems, he couldn’t fly, so there was some worry about whether the groom would get there in time for the wedding (I had to go to Texas and drive him back to Baltimore). But it was lovely bonding time.

3. The day before the wedding, my mom had to get rushed to the hospital with low blood sugar (she was okay!). In addition to being extraordinarily scared for my mom, I missed my hair and spa appointment. I had to find another hair dresser at the last minute (cuz the one doing my hair was going out of town later that day which is why my hair was scheduled for early the day before).

4. While getttin’ my hair did, and only having in half my tracks (she was getting a weave, y’all) ), my doc calls and tells me my routine blood work came back and OMG! and I had to rush to the hospital and get re-tested, because if the results were right, I was a ticking time bomb and needed to be admitted.

5. At hospital checking blood work, I get two idiots who didn’t understand what STAT meant and tried to tell me that my wedding rehearsal wasn’t important enough for them to rush results. Fortunately a female PA came in, listened to me and my sis cry about what was going on and got me out of there with CORRECT and NON-LETHAL blood work so I could get to my wedding rehearsal on time where I found out…

 6…that the photographer had a heart attack on the plane on the way from Austin to Baltimore and was in a hospital in Chicago (where the plane had a layover)
7. Fortunately, Sam’s friend Myq (who is also a photographer) came to the wedding and he stood in for us. We also had the mom of the flower girl taking pictures (and she did a really great job!).

8. I had to leave my own wedding rehearsal dinner to go the the nail place at Owings Mills Mall to get my nails done. That was my spa time.

9. The day of the wedding, the make-up person was 45 minutes late, which put me behind schedule. Then…

10. The flowers were late because some drawbridge in Baltimore got stuck open and the florist couldn’t get them delivered on time. So I wound up getting to the ceremony an hour late.
11. Oh!! And because the flowers were late, my two best friends couldn’t even ride with me in the limo (cuz they had to get the flowers to the menfolk at the church), which was something I REALLY wanted to happen.
12. Somehow, my mother didn’t get walked down the aisle by my brother-in-law (which totally wasn’t his fault) like she should have – which honestly STILL bothers me. Mom should NOT have to walk down the aisle by herself.
13. There was some mix-up with missed song lyrics and arrangements, and there was no music playing when the wedding party left, which was kinda eerie.

1. It was a beautiful sunny day.

She is so pretty, says the writers of this blog, and everyone with eyes.

2. We all got to witness the ring bearer be coaxed down the aisle by my brother with candy. Everyone should witness this once in their life.

3. Our mothers both spoke and gave advice that made everyone cry.

4. The ceremony was full of love. (Says Lynne. Who was a bridesmaid and could see everything)

5. There were tears all around, including the Groom, the Mother of the Bride (who is NOT a crier), and the singing bridesmaids.

6. The pastor based her message on “The Princess Bride”, and that is awesome.

7. We have beautiful memories of people we love that aren’t here anymore, like my mother-in-law and Uncle Butch.

8. The reception was a tea, and my beloved Sam prepared most of it, and all of our friends pitched in to set it up, including the wife of our eventual photographer, who happens to be a chef.  (And it was BEAUTIFUL and lovely and comfy. -Lynne)

9. There was eating and laughing and loving.

10. Everyone enjoyed the beautiful cake. Look in the bottom corner.

11. But most of all, this happened….

So it was a good day.

Why I Love Weddings

by SweetMidlife

Wedding Week continues. Today, Good Friend Elicia writes about a beautiful wedding that she went to last week. It’s like a review of the most romantic movie EVAH. Enjoy.

by Elicia McIntyre

Photo Credit: Bridget Thornton

An ex-boyfriend once teased me for loving what he called the “pageantry” of weddings. Well, guilty as charged. I’ve always loved weddings! I love it all – the invitations, the fashion, the flowers, the first dance, the tipsy rambling speeches, and the rhythm-challenged guests (there are always a few at every wedding). I love to see everyone having a good time. Most of all, I love to see two people commit to each other and begin a lifelong journey. I enjoy entertaining and event planning, and I’ll admit that I’ve watched shows like TLC’s A Wedding Story, Four Weddings and Style Network’s “Whose Wedding is it Anyway?” (a show about wedding planners).

I also enjoy the anticipation of seeing how each wedding will be a unique experience and reflection of the couple:

  • Will the bride cry walking down the aisle or during the vows?
  • Will the groom cry when he sees her for the first time?
  • Buffet, food stations or a sit-down meal?
  • Will the couple have the traditional head table or enjoy their first meal as husband and wife at a sweetheart table?
  • Cake smashers or cake feeders?
  • Dramatic honeymoon exit or will they stay til the end of the party?

Last weekend, I had the privilege of attending one of the most Christ-centered, joy-filled weddings ever – the union of my friends Stephanie and Matthew. Steph and Matt’s story is a God story, without a doubt. They were friends for a few years before either of them had any romantic feelings. About a month or so after they started dating, while the rest of us were watching the 2012 Summer Games on TV, Steph broke her leg during an attempted Olympic-inspired long jump. (Don’t ask. She’s all healed now.) Someone captured a picture of Matt carrying Stephanie with her bandaged leg. She had to be in tremendous pain, yet they both had huge grins on their faces. Matt carried her in the same valiant way as they made their grand entrance as husband and wife at their wedding reception. This touched me not just as a romantic gesture, but as a symbol of the way he’s cared for her during their courtship, and a statement of how he intends to care for his wife throughout their life together.

Everyone who attended the wedding agreed that joy was the theme of the day. Joy goes beyond happiness and comes from a deep well, with God at the center. The bride’s father gave the blessing over the reception meal and reminded us that Steph and Matt first found the Lord before finding each other.

The ceremony was absolutely beautiful. Rather than having the standard Scripture readings and other religious traditions (not that there’s anything wrong with that!), the ceremony focused on the practical wisdom the couple will need in order to live out their vows on a daily basis.

Pastor Mich asked the couple to consider what’s good, better, and best for their marriage, always choosing to treat each other “extra special.” He encouraged Matt to lead (not dictate or lord over) and love Stephanie in the way that Jesus modeled. He urged Stephanie to support Matt and not defeat him. Pastor Mich reminded them that they won’t always feel “in love” throughout this lifelong commitment. He advised them not to have an exit strategy. I wonder how much the divorce rate would decrease if every couple adopted this mindset?

The couple vowed to love, honor, and respect, recognizing each other as a gift from God .

I’ve been to a lot of weddings, and there were a few elements to this ceremony I’d not seen before. The first occurred at the beginning, when Pastor Mich asked the couple to turn around and take a look at the family and friends that came to support them. So often, I hear couples say their wedding day was a blur. I love that Stephanie and Matthew had a chance to take the moment in. Another twist was the invitation of all the family members to be a part of the unity sand ceremony. I’ve often seen the bride and groom’s parents participate in unity candle lighting, but this gesture symbolized the joining together of two entire families.

During the cocktail hour, I felt a tap on my shoulder – I turned around and it was the bride. The wedding party had taken all of their photos before the ceremony. I think it’s awesome that the couple got to enjoy every aspect of their wedding and spend time celebrating with those closest to them. Taking notes for my special day!

The reception was well-paced – no long gaps between events. We had just the right amount of time to enjoy dinner before dancing.

I’ve always preferred DJs over wedding bands, but I gotta say, the band was PHENOMENAL. Okay, maybe I have *slight* friend bias because they all use their musical gifts in our church’s praise and worship band, but for those of you not familiar, let me tell you there is NOTHING the “Shunda” band can’t do. After they opened with The Jackson 5 (“I Want You Back”), I did not sit down –Okay, I sat out one line dance (“Cupid Shuffle”) simply because I was overheated and desperately needed water. But it allowed me to get this awesome shot of my friends on the dance floor:

Okay, there was one other time I sat down and that was to eat wedding cake – which was delicious and moist with a raspberry filling. Good wedding cake is a must!


We formed a “Love Train” to the sound of the O’Jays. We did all the slides – Electric and Cha-Cha. We did the Wobble. Oh, and did I mention one of the lead singers, my friend Tracey Tiernan of Baltimore’s 95.1 SHINE FM (and a former nightclub and wedding band singer) busted out with Beyonce’s “Crazy in Love.” And I just about LOST MY MIND when Mario sang Bruno Mars’ “Locked out of Heaven,” just as good as the original! The band played a tribute to the bride’s Jersey roots with “Living on a Prayer” and all of us 80s kids rejoiced. We did a Soul Train line to “Everybody Dance Now.” At the end of the night, we chanted, “ONE MORE SONG!” until the band acquiesced. They gave us “Respect” (Aretha Franklin) as their encore song. I’ve never been to a wedding where the band says good night and the crowd is still lingering on the dance floor, talking and congratulating the couple.

Seeing my friends so happy last Saturday night put a smile on my face that lasted well into Tuesday. Sometime after their engagement, I remember Stephanie saying, “A year ago, there was no Matt,” referring to just how quickly life can change. Singletons, let this be an encouragement to your heart!

Stephanie and Matthew’s relationship is the real deal. I’m sure both of them would say it was worth waiting for. God is the ultimate matchmaker.


5 To Do’s for the bride at 35 (or older)

by SweetMidlife

Hi! Wedding Week Continues with advice from guest blogger Jocelyn Warren, who we grew up with in Baltimore. Jocelyn knows what she is talking about: she is the owner of A Paradigm Shift, LLC, an event planning firm in Raleigh, North Carolina, AND also got married recently in her early 40’s. Enjoy!!

5 To Do’s for the bride at 35 (or older)

by Jocelyn Warren

Jocelyn on her wedding day!!

At the age of 38, I met the man of my dreams. He was handsome, strong, a great father, and a wonderful person. He asked me to marry him 3 years later (officially—he actually told me we were going to get married 2 weeks after we met). So at 41 I found myself a bride-to-be. So along with his proposal came a barrage of advice from others. Out of it all, this is what I wish someone had told me!

  1. Do what you want

We did. We had the wedding we wanted. I wore a princess ball gown. He wore a chocolate tuxedo. We had our three tiered wedding cake, over 100 guests from all phases of our lives, the traditional dances, but we made it our own. We are known for the games we play when we entertain and love of sports so both were part of our wedding day and celebration. We had it our way. We put aside the expectations of others and incorporated our personalities from our engagement pictures to the music we used to enter the reception. Click here to see our entrance at 1:00 – 1:45 min of this video clip.

  1. Do wear what you want

Once we decided to have a traditional wedding, I decided on a traditional gown. This was not my first marriage and I was over 40, so people tried to tell me all kinds of things about what older brides should wear. In the end, I wore a strapless DaVinci ballgown. I compromised with my 70 year old mother who thinks brides should not have bare shoulders. I wore a beautiful organza shrug. Do not wear a matronly gown if you don’t want to! Wear what you are comfortable in and what looks good on you. It will show in the pictures!

  1. Do invite who you want

I did not do this and I regret it. We invited about 197 people and 137 RSVP’d and 123 showed up. Yes. I am still annoyed that people RSVP’d and did not show up but that’s a blog/rant for another day. But I wish we had really sat down and ONLY invited the people we absolutely without a doubt could not imagine our day without. That is who you want in your pictures, who you want in your energy and space. Ask yourself, would I buy this person dinner for $XX (whatever your per plate cost is). If the answer is “No,” nix them from the guest list.

4. Do trust your gut

Brides over 35 are wise. They have managed to navigate lots of life’s pitfalls and come out in love. Amazing! So all the instincts you have in other aspects of your life, put them to use in regard to your wedding. If you don’t get a good feeling about a location, a vendor, a contract. Trust your gut. Don’t do it or at least ask more questions. Run your ideas by others and get input, but if you can’t put your finger on why you don’t want to do something, don’t dismiss it. You will be thankful later! Trust me.

  1. Do hire a planner

Most of us do not plan weddings routinely. If we are fortunate, you only plan one! Many brides at 35 are working professionals and don’t have time to conjure theme options, know how to “brand” a wedding, research venue options, develop timelines, coordinate vendor arrivals, or even know what is reasonable to have in a florist contract. Wedding planners do all that and more. Hire one. They are often much less expensive than you think and the money you save in the resources they have, will often pay for their cost in the end. If you simply cannot hire a planner sign up for email lists and blogs of planners so that you can, a least, get some of their words of wisdom.


If you have questions or need more help with your wedding planning, call me at 919.701.9556, see our webpage, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Pinterest.


Jocelyn Warren, a Baltimore native, is the Owner and Event Designer for A Paradigm Shift Event, LLC located in Raleigh, NC. A Paradigm Shift Event, is a full service, boutique wedding and special event planning company committed to fundamentally changing the event experience.


Phone:  919.701.9556

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/AParadigmShiftEvent

Pinterest:  http://pinterest.com/aparadigmshift

Twitter: https://twitter.com/A_Paradigm_SE


Wedding week: Be a cheerful giver…and getter

by SweetMidlife
There is no ticket price on a wedding invitation. 

Leslie here!

I remember being blown away as a young adult when I found out how a bridal gift registry worked.

“So you’re saying that I go into a store, look up things I want, write them down and then people buy me what I asked for?”


“What sweet madness is this?”

By the time I got to fill out my own gift registry, it was almost two decades later, and I’d been on the other side of that sweet madness many, many times. I thought that having experience buying gifts for people made me pretty judicious in what I asked from other people, as in: I felt that my job as a wedding guest was to buy you a gift, preferably one you had asked for, that did not make me look cheap without putting my rent in jeopardy. I learned, especially when I was younger, that you had to jump on the registry and buy the less-expensive nice gifts first or someone was going to beat you to it. And if a bride ONLY had high dollar items on the registry, I either bought a $50 gift certificate or went in with friends.

So as a bride, I was very careful to have a range of things I registered for, in price and in fanciness. I was almost 39 when I got married, so while I already had towels and plates, I registered for some that could establish us as a new household. However, I didn’t go crazy and say “Y’all better buy me $50 a piece towels,” because it is not anyone else’s responsibility to buy my fancy towels. Of course, the registry is just a suggestion, as far as I was concerned. While there were a couple of things we got where we were like “Uh, OK!” we accepted everything cheerfully and gratefully.

Because they were gifts.

And not legal obligations.

Or compensation or reimbursement for the money we spent on the wedding.

I’ve read some horror stories online on sites like HellsBells, where people submit hideous stories of bad wedding etiquette, about wedded ingrates who start email battles with guests whose gifts they consider unworthy of the money they spent on their meal, or of one idiot who tried to return a beautifully presented “wedding cake” made of the towels HE AND HIS FIANCEE HAD REGISTERED FOR to the co-worker who had painstakingly assembled it, because they didn’t want “artsy crafty” gifts.

And expected her to buy them something else.


Nobody had to buy me crap. But they did. And when they did, we thanked them and moved on, particularly because we got enough cash to buy our own towels if we decided to. A wedding invitation should not have a dollar sign on it. All you need to do is RSVP in time to ensure that I don’t pay for your dinner if you’re not gonna show, and then just show up and not start a fist fight in the buffet line or cuss out my grandmother. That’s it. Gifts are usually expected, but if you don’t give me one, the wedding’s already been paid for so while it’s not the custom, it’s not like I need your check. And unless your gift is a rotting bag of oranges, illegal substances or something I gave you with the price tag scratched off, it’s cool.

Feeling this way does not make me perfect or a martyr. It just makes me a grown-up, I hope, because my wedding didn’t roll out the way I’d planned, requiring me to adjust my definition of gift. After my husband and I had paid the deposit on the hotel where we’d be married and started telling people the date, we found that he had a tumor in his ear for which his insurance would not cover the surgery to remove, as it was a pre-exisiting condition. After about a week of worry, we decided to get married in the same place we’d planned, with the dress I’d purchased and as many people as we could get from the original guest list…just several months earlier.

Immediately, we called our loved ones, most of whom lived several states and a couple of hundred dollars of plane tickets away, and said “We love you and want you here, but we understand that you now have four weeks rather than five months to buy plane tickets or bridesmaids dresses or gifts. You now have to decide what to do with your kids who were invited for what was supposed to be a summer wedding, when they were out of school, but who will now still be in school. You have to rearrange possible vacation days, or check your calendar. We know we are asking a lot of you, so understand that we mean it when we say…if you cannot make it we will never be mad about that. And if you come, particularly if it’s going to cost you more to come now than it would during the summer…consider that your gift.”

And we meant it. But you would not believe the gifts that we got – the gift of the friend who called Costco and personally ordered my flowers, and then yelled at them for a refund when they screwed it up. The gift of a song that a friend learned to play for our recessional. The gift of free photography from friends who usually charge thousands, or of wedding planning from a friend who had charged that much professionally to do the same. The gift of various wedding party members running out to buy last-minute candles, to pick up out of town guests I’d forgotten to update on changed plans. The gift of my grandma, who didn’t think she could travel after surgery but who, on a fixed income, got clearance and bought a last minute ticket anyway which wasn’t cheap, even at senior prices.

These are gifts that are given out of love, that cost money and time and effort and organization. They are not sold at Pottery Barn. There is no gift certificate for “fill out place cards the morning of the wedding at the bride gets stuffed into her dress.” That’s a gift, nonetheless.

And I wouldn’t exchange them. They are priceless.

Wedding Week Begins! Today, A Picture Paints a Thousand Joys…

by SweetMidlife

Hi! Lynne here! So, this week on The Sweet Midlife, we wanted to talk about weddings. I actually wanted to do it in June, and this is July 1st.  But shoot, the theme of this blog is that wonderful things can happen in your life, no matter how late you night think it is, so I guess it’s okay that we are a little behind. So, here is a thought on weddings.

I got married almost 3 years ago, and it will be forever be one of my favorite days ever. Yes, the planning had nutty times, and there was that one day I asked if we could elope, and there were people that I couldn’t invite because of a limited guest list, and there are things that I would have done differently if I could have.

But what I see when I look at the pictures is happiness. The excitement on my face. How lovely my friends were as they curled their hair and got dressed. How proud my aunt was that she was wearing a corsage and being honored, not just as my aunt, but also, hopefully because she felt beautiful, which she doesn’t feel about herself enough. My goddaughter and another little friend dancing. My husband and I about to leave the wedding, relieved that we did it, blessed to have each other, completely aware of what we’ve got in each other, united for what is to come. I see my Daddy, so handsome and happy to be giving me away, even though I didn’t know until later that he was having a really bad cancer-fighting day. I see my Granddaddy, handsome and strong, so excited to read the Scriptures during the ceremony, because he loved me AND because he loved the Bible so. Daddy and Granddaddy are both gone now, so those memories brought back by those images are even more precious now.

My favorite moments from my wedding, and my favorite ones captured on film, aren’t the ones that were posed. I love those too. But I love the moments that just happened. The moments that reflect happy because they came out of a happy event. Joy reflects joy, organized or not. So I guess my thought on weddings as I write this is this: If you are planning a wedding, remember why you are hopefully going through all of this. Not just to make a splash, or to have that big day that you planned when you were 7 and didn’t even know your future spouse. Hopefully you are having a wedding to celebrate the union of two souls that can’t go one more day without being together. And that you want your loved ones to see it. And that this will make everyone happy. And if that is the case, this will show up in your pictures, and you will cherish those moments and remember that feeling a day later, a year later, 5 years later, and forever.

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