Oftentimes I see women of color spending so much time planning for the wedding, they forget about their marriage. The wedding planning process is a very stressful time, and if couples aren't on the same page, it can lead to a very rocky first year of marriage or divorce. I got married young (24) and canceled my wedding and 300-plus guests 60 days before it was set to take place because we were not ready.
We went back to church and worked out our issues. We ended up having a small wedding in the Bahamas a year later. It was super embarrassing at the time, but the financial and spiritual lessons we learned were needed. I know in my heart that if we would have gone through with that wedding, God wouldn't be in our marriage now. So, as a wedding photographer, I try to connect with my brides on a personal level to give them some guidance during their planning process as the wedding industry and social media set unrealistic expectations. So here is a quick sample of some of my tips!
1.Review your finances and set your budget early.
Before you get a wedding magazine, set a date, or go to Pinterest, you need to know how much you are willing to spend on your wedding. Finances are the number one issue in marriage in America today, and you don't want to start off headed down the wrong path. I know weddings are expensive, but that doesn't mean you can't have a beautiful day within your budget! Once you have your budget set, stick to it. Splurge within your budget! If you want more flowers, cut back on the number of guests. Sis, I promise you no one will remember the type of chairs you had at your wedding. Do what's best for the family you are creating!
2.Set family boundaries.
My husband is Bahamian so not only were we blending two families but two different cultures. We were still learning each other's family dynamics, and I had a hard time understanding them, so I found myself at odds while planning. To cut down on the drama, we came up with a rule that he would communicate negative feels to his family and I would talk to mine. We would be a united front even if we had to make compromises coming to our final decision. It worked so well, we kept it in our marriage for both births of our children! It saved us a lot of time and energy!
3.Hire a bomb photographer.
I know you're thinking this is totally self-serving of me, but honestly, it's going to be the only thing you have left from your day. I always tell my brides when they get into their first significant disagreement with their husband after their wedding, pull out their album to remind them of the happy times! The goal here is to have your great-great-grandchildren look at these photos one day. Think about it as an investment in your family's history. I have so many brides come to me after "going a different direction" because they hate their photos or important moments were missed. It's the one area of your wedding you want to make sure you have made a personal, and you can see yourself in that person's work.
4.Have a Beyonce moment (make it exclusive).
Facebook is going to be a complete snapshot of the human experience. However, I am a firm believer that not every moment of our lives should be shared with everyone. This is an intimate moment of two families becoming one. Why not just enjoy the moment with the people that are in the room? An unplugged wedding is when the bride and groom request their guests put their phones/iPad/Gopro/Christmas DSLR cameras away during their wedding. I'm down for the idea of having an unplugged wedding, however, if that takes it too far for you, why not just the ceremony?
When I walked down the aisle, I wasn't trying to see my husband through a sea of cell phones, I saw him. His eyes, his smile, my mom's smile, my mother-in-law's tears. It was a powerful moment and I am glad we did it OUR WAY.
I always ask myself what happened to all those iPhone photos after the wedding anyway? Do they just sit in the cloud? Like really, you hired a photographer and I promise you won't regret having an unplugged wedding. Wait, why not have an unplugged marriage too? See, I know my story is different. However, I have found social media to be unhealthy for my marriage in the beginning. So, I kept mine off completely. To me, marriage is too real for the fake land of Instagram. My husband doesn't have social media and I have it for my businesses. I just found keeping my private life private is best for my little family. It works for us and may not work for you! it really may not be that deep. But I suggest you have a conversation with your partner to see what works best for your relationship especially when you have kids.
5.Support black-owned businesses.View More: http://unique2chicphotography.pass.us/swanhousefavs
This is your opportunity to keep your dollars in our community. I hate that we have this stigma in our community about the level of service black business have. It's simply not true. We are here. We are ready and we are luxury honey! I have seen a new wave of "woke" brides actively searching to hire all-black vendors and I'm all the way here for it. There is nothing like having a photographer that went to an HBCU or a DJ that was in the band. There are so many vendors to pick from in different styles and at each price point. I know if you take your time, you can find great ones that are within our community. Just know we love the support and will provide the same if not better quality of service as our counterparts!
6.Start marriage counseling and stay in it.
Planning a wedding can introduce a new level of stress into your relationship. Managing finances, family expectations, and personal time can all be a lot to handle. I see couples learning after the wedding that marriage isn't as easy as they thought. It requires a lot of hard work and commitment every single day. I personally found counseling helpful during the process of building our marriage once the honeymoon stage was over. I think of it as a tool to help fix things if we fall off track, which we do. It's funny because you think you really know a person otherwise you wouldn't be married to them.
However, life as a way of throwing you curveballs. I'm here to tell you, that you will face problems that you never thought would be an issue. For me, my unexpected life surprise was being diagnosed with thyroid cancer at 27 years old. I know when you see cancer, you think the worst but my situation was far from it. It did, however, take a toll on my mental health and my marriage. My husband and I didn't know how to navigate through that storm so we sought the help of a professional. Marriages have ups and downs and different seasons. It's OK to have an outside neutral party to help you through it.
7.On the 7th Day, God rested.View More: http://unique2chicphotography.pass.us/swanhousewedding
The planning is over, the wedding is done, now it's time to relax on a beach and enjoy the first days of your marriage together! I will honestly say not taking a honeymoon was my biggest mistake during my planning. We were getting married on an island so our reasoning was the wedding was a honeymoon -- NO, it wasn't. We spent so much time entertaining guests and we really didn't see each other that much, which is normal during a wedding weekend. We should have taken a few days to ourselves just to relax. The world is open now, it's affordable to get to Thailand or Aruba for a week. My husband and I always said we would take a "honeymoon" later, but five years and two kids later, I'm still waiting. Trust me, you won't regret the time, vacation days, or the money spent.
Featured image via Elizabeth Austin Photography.
Elizabeth Austin-Davis is a northern girl with a southern heart. While in Alabama pursuing her business undergraduate degree at Tuskegee University, she continued to follow her passion of photography. In 2013, she successfully launched her photography business. Since then, she has photographed weddings internationally, and her work has been featured in Brides, The Knot Magazine, Martha Stewart, HGTV, Black Bride Magazine, and many more. Her ability to artistically translate her couples love through images, has been a catalyst in developing her unique style.
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This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
It’s almost as if most of the traditional sugary sodas that we grew up loving were swapped out for most health-conscious alternatives. If you walk into any grocery store and find yourself in the soft drink aisle, what you’ll discover is a new, fast-growing selection of gut-friendly drinks that are improving our digestive health, one sip at a time.
Probiotics are live microorganisms, often referred to as "good" bacteria, that help maintain a balanced and healthy microbial environment in our digestive system. With probiotic beverages that contain live beneficial bacteria, these drinks deliver probiotics to the digestive system in a convenient and enjoyable way.
Although it may seem as if probiotic sodas have had an instant surge in popularity, these low-sugar, tummy-soothing beverages have earned their position by tasting good and being good for you. From their support in maintaining good bacteria in the gut to keeping your immune system balanced and in check, there’s truly nothing like sipping your way to better gut health.
From fermented seltzers to probiotic pops, we’ve got the best bubbly, gut-focused sodas for you to try.
This sparkling soda from Poppi is packed with the good stuff to keep your immune system boosted, your stomach less bloated, and your digestive system flowing.
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Looking for a soda that puts your gut health first? Mayawell has all the good prebiotic fiber to keep your immune system strong and metabolism burning.
We love a silly little drink that’s serious about giving your gut the good bacteria it needs, with both prebiotics and probiotics packed in every can.
The secret behind KeVita’s sparkling refreshers is that it’s been fermented with their water kefir culture to keep the “good bacteria” happy and working for you.
Whether it's for the taste or its endless gut benefits, OLIPOP is providing a healthier alternative to sugary sodas with high-fiber ingredients that support your digestive system.
Sipping on your favorite soda is even better when you know that it’s juicy, fruity, and made with organic spices and herbs, along with billions of live probiotics that are as soothing as it is satisfying.
If you’re looking for a seltzer that’s good for you and loaded with two billion probiotics in every can, you’re gonna love these seltzers from Humm.
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Featured image by Stefania Pelfini, La Waziya Photography/Getty Images