Weddings, Finances & Your Kids

1986-10-4-wedding-14It’s a whole new world out there for those of us who have children of marrying age.

Many of our kids are holding off to marry after their education is completed or they have some work experience, and a whole new dynamic has emerged for us that may make old customs or “rules of etiquette” functionally obsolete.

I will be frank, that many of these societal niceties passed my husband and me by as we married in 1986 in our late twenties. We had education and careers under our belt and financed the whole shebang (except the rehearsal dinner, which his parents graciously covered) with our own funds.

I did not ask for guidance or help on my wedding, and the results were truly what Dan and I wanted. We chose The Abbey (a Victorian house that hosted weddings, and had a sweeping staircase to the upper level) for our wedding and we kept it small (100 guests). We took advantage of the wedding coordinator The Abbey offered, and their catering offerings. With a 7:00pm wedding in mind, we offered appetizers, champagne, chocolate covered strawberries, and wedding cake. We did not do a sit down meal or buffet and it was not missed.

We spent resources on the three-piece combo (Second Wind) that doubled as our wedding processional music provider (guitar and flute – it was lovely) and as our dancing accompaniment for the reception where I sang “our song” to my new husband. We spent a decent amount for an excellent photographer with the idea in mind that when all was said and done, the pictures would be our memories of the day.

The wedding ceremony was held upstairs in a room that was highlighted by a fireplace decorated with my favorite lilies and ivy, and it was cozy and ideal for a very personalized ceremony that fit us perfectly.

Price for everything, including my gown, hat, shoes, and the flowers? $5,000.

Of course this was 1986, and things have changed greatly. We understand, and so we did our homework when considering what we would provide for our two lovely daughters. The tradition is that the bride’s family pays for the wedding, and so we decided to go with that, but with a twist.

We will give each of our girls around the cost of an average wedding in America (Surveys say that is about $20-25,000 these days!) and with no strings or expectations attached, that will be their wedding gift to do with as they please.

Yes, weddings can definitely be done for less than the average, but we decided to make our gift their opportunity to have choices.

The less they pay for a wedding, the more they will have left to put toward a house, furnishings, the honeymoon, or whatever the couple decides is their priority. If the cost is higher, then they must figure out how to pay it, and that too, is their choice.

What does this do for us as parents?

Kauai ProposalIt frees us to enjoy whatever celebration of their union they decide on. It takes our preferences and feelings out of the equation (no guilt trips, no drama), and gives them what we look back on as the wonderful gift of having their day, their way. It gives them the freedom to spend the most on what they feel is most important.

It also gives us the opportunity to contribute and participate in whatever ways are meaningful to them.

The maid of honor (big sis!), the mother of the groom, and I will meet with the future bride to help her pick out her wedding dress, and of course, Dad is already working with her to pick out that perfect “Father-Daughter” dance song!

We can’t wait to see what they decide, and the wedding is coming up next fall in Nashville.

Here comes the bride!





2016 Election – What Do I Tell the Kids?

Election 2016Many people will be blogging about this, and they will come from many different perspectives. Everything from bullying, to racism, to sexism will be pulled out, examined ad infinitum, and tossed back into the whirling chum that is our media coverage. People will display an array of emotions, and some people who would have hesitated to air negative and acrimonious feelings and opinions in the past may feel this is the time to let it all out.

Just for a moment, take a breath with me and think about the children. 

Regardless of your views, emotions, and the diatribes you may have unwittingly exposed them to as this contentious election season seemed to hang on forever, you love them and want them to feel safe.


I will proceed here with the assumption that we all want our kids to feel safe, secure, and loved.

Frankly, you wouldn’t waste a moment reading this if you didn’t.

We must be clear, concise and careful with the opinions we share with our children at this point. We must make it clear that regardless of our personal feelings or thoughts, we have chosen to live in a country and a society that is governed by laws and that one of the covenants we make as citizens is to support our elected leaders, regardless of whether we personally voted for them or not.

We have chosen to be governed by the will of the people, and whether you agree with the electoral college system or any other technical issues connected with the election, we must pull together and work with the person who has been elected under the laws of our country. Whether you win or you lose, that is the deal in America, and by teaching them this valuable lesson about graciousness in both winning and losing, you will respect the future voters they will become.

It may be very difficult for you to balance your personal feelings, whether positive or negative, with the need to protect your children and make them feel safe, but trust me when I say the latter outweighs the former. Their feelings of safety and security and concern for you can affect them negatively, and for years to come, if you do not make them the priority.

They are watching, so show them grace, an open heart and mind, and willingness to accept the will of the people, whatever it may be… because that is what you agreed to do whether you were born here or chose this country as your home.


30th Wedding Anniversary Secrets

30th AnniversaryWe are celebrating thirty years of marriage soon, and many acquaintances and friends have asked, “What’s your secret?”

There are probably many that we never even think about, from being aware of each others’ Myers-Briggs personality profile from the beginning, to recent decisions to live “an extraordinary life” together.

But I will share with you one piece of wisdom that my wonderful father-in-law shared with me on my wedding day.

He and Mom had been married for many decades even then, and when he passed away, they had been married more than fifty years. They never lost the romance, fun and regard for each other, and so as I danced with Dad on that wedding day dance floor, I asked him, “What is your secret to so many years of success in your relationship?”

He got very serious (which was unusual for this outgoing, incredibly charming, impish man) and said, “Don’t ever call each other names. You can’t ever take them back.”

That sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it?  One straightforward action you can take to increase your odds of a long-lasting, wonderful marriage. Who wouldn’t take that advice?

I took it in and thought about it, and decided to build on it. 

If you wouldn’t call your spouse names…that was a good start…but what if you actually flipped that and determined you would go further?  What if you got in the habit of actively saying good things about your spouse, both internally and externally? What positive ripples could occur over time in your relationship?

No guarantees, mind you, but three decades later I am still discovering and talking about the wonderful facets of my husband. I am still appreciating and cherishing his love, romance, intellect, humor, sense of fun, and willingness to keep our life together exciting. And I know he talks about me the same way. We are each other’s greatest treasure.

I think that is something worth striving for, don’t you? 

No matter whether you are contemplating marriage, are a newlywed, or are decades into your wedded relationship, please remember you have this amazing power.

The power to look for and at the positive; the power to choose to speak about the positive; and most importantly the power to choose to build instead of tearing down that person you love.

Your choice. Your power. 

Will this fix a relationship that is broken, lop-sided or abusive?

Most likely not, and that is something for a counselor to help with. But if you are in a fairly healthy, happy relationship already, this choice has the potential to pole vault you into a wonderful place where you cherish and are cherished. It isn’t a quick transformation, but it happens and when it happens, it becomes a part of your future and your happiness.

Hey, worth a try, right?

As for us, my friends, we are going for the GOLD!


Choosing An Extraordinary Life

Family Reunion 1993 - Disney WorldMy husband and I have been blessed with a life filled with adventures. We owe many of them to his incredibly generous parents who shared their riches of time and treasure with the whole family.

Each year, they whisked us off to a week’s vacation somewhere fun at no cost to us.

Christmas in July!

This started very organically as the family started to marry and begin families of their own, and getting together at Christmas became more and more difficult. (We still managed it a couple of times, but eventually the majority of trips moved to the summer.)

Dude Ranches, Disney World (a few different resorts and on site properties over the years), Lake Tahoe, Sedona, Atlantis, Sea Island, Hawaii, and Disney Cruises to the Bahamas and to Alaska were some of the highlights. Cousins and in-laws got to know each other and form lifelong bonds, and four families who were spread from California, to Arizona, to Texas, to Florida kept those connections alive over the miles.

Mom and Dad got it right.

They chose adventures, great family Family Reunion at Disney World 1993stories, and love over leaving more money to the children, and their family deeply appreciates that choice.

Now my husband and I are moving into that space in our personal family that Mom and Dad filled so beautifully, and we have been inspired them in many ways.

First, we have decided to keep the reunion tradition alive, and as long as we can make it happen, we will whisk our daughters and their husbands and children off for a week of rest, adventures, and re-connection. We may even help engineer an extended family reunion now and then! Continue reading

Good Grief, Good Governance!

canstockphoto6398851The political season has swallowed the current landscape of our lives, and will be a main source of conversation, debate, and even stress for months to come.

I am not talking about parties today, but rather politics. That process that is ideally supposed to winnow the wheat from the chaff and give us the best leaders possible at any given time.

I recently considered running for what is considered a bipartisan, down near the bottom of the ballot, elected position. It was to represent and work hard for a local community college that I personally attended, support, and feel strongly positive about.

I am not a politician.

I am an experienced public speaker, somewhat telegenic (or at least comfortable on camera), and have made many friends and acquaintances in my community through nonprofit work and volunteering. Continue reading