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For this new blog series- Real Weddings- I knew I wanted to start with my parents.  This is the picture of marriage I have grown up watching.  Only as I've gotten older have I realized what a great example they have been.  Their marriage is a true love story that started at first sight and continues to "happily ever after."  But what makes their marriage so special is that it doesn't involve overly romantic gestures.  Dad used to show up to take mom out with a newspaper under his arm.  When he'd get to the front door, he'd open it up and they'd decide together where to go.  There was no showy proposal, and there haven't been sweeping romantic stories from either of them.  

However, for their entire marriage, there have been tiny daily gestures of true love like mom giving dad quiet time to decompress after a day of work and cooking the foods he loves most.  Dad always being there for mom to talk.  They are best friends in every sense.  

Another reason this wedding is special is because mom's mother was dying of breast cancer during the engagement and wedding.  What a difficult circumstance to plan a wedding under!  Weddings don't happen in idyllic circumstances.  Life continues to happen during an engagement and that can mean great events and/or difficult ones.  My parents' wedding is an example of why focusing on the marriage, the people in your life and the big picture can make all the difference in having a happy wedding day.  I love mom's advice:

Try not to get too caught up in yourself during the wedding planning.  Yes, it's an important day, but many other people and their feelings should be acknowledged and taken into consideration, also 
-Ellen Slovacek

How did you two meet?  

We met at BYU. His roommate wanted to ask my roommate out, so he asked if Marv would take me out as a double date.  We had never met, but I had noticed him in church a few weeks earlier.  Marv's timing in asking me out was good.  I had just returned from a bad date and declared to my roommates that I would never date again.  I was sick of it.  Just after my emphatic declaration, the phone rang.  It was Marv asking me out.  I found him to be intriguing, so I said yes.  I've been saying yes to him ever since.

Tell us about the proposal.  

There wasn't one really.  I was living in Seattle and he was in Provo, Utah going to summer school.  Before I left, we decided to pray about getting married.  He called on the appointed day, and asked me how I felt (meaning, how do you feel about getting married.)  I said fine.  I asked him how he felt and he said fine.  There was a long pause and then Marv said, "Does that mean we're engaged?"  And I said yes. 

When did you know you wanted to marry him?  

From the day I first saw him.  I said he intrigued me, but actually, I was really quite smitten.  He was, and continues to be, the man of my dreams.

What challenges did you face during your engagement/wedding planning process?  

My mom was dealing with breast cancer and my brother announced his engagement at the same time.  Planning two weddings and dealing with a serious illness was very trying for my parents.  They wanted me to put off the wedding for a few years.  But in the end, if we had, my mom wouldn't have lived long enough to attend our wedding.  We were married two weeks after my brother.

What was your favorite part of your wedding celebration?  

Just being alone with Marv after our wedding.  I couldn't believe I got to marry my best friend.

Is there anything you would have done differently?  

I wish I had been more aware of the sacrifices my mom and others made for me so that I could have a wonderful wedding, my mom especially.  She and Dad drove to Salt Lake City from Seattle because she couldn't fly.  Then they turned around the next day and drove back because she was so sick.  I wish I had acknowledged her sacrifice.  She is an amazing woman.

What advice would you give a bride planning her wedding now?  

Try not to get too caught up in yourself during the wedding planning.  Yes, it's an important day, but many other people and their feelings should be acknowledged and taken into consideration, also.  Stay happy and relaxed and fill your soul with appreciation for everything you are experiencing and all the good people in your life.

What is your favorite part of your relationship now?  

Everything.  I love how we have experienced so many things in life--the good and the bad.  We have gone through so much together, but it is in the "getting through" that has galvanized our relationship.  He is a treasure to me.  I could never live without him.

How has it changed over the last 40 years?  

When we were first married, I was totally infatuated with him.  Marrying him was like winning the lottery.  Now that we've been married this long, I see that I loved him then, but the depth of our love knows no bounds.  We have indeed become basically the same person: Two souls with one heart.

What attitude or behavior helped get you to your 40 years of marriage?  

I think a happy and relaxed attitude, and a great faith in the Lord, knowing that everything would work out fine.  There also has to be a healthy amount of selflessness, and a genuine desire to make the other person happy.

What is your best advice for a couple starting out now?  

Above all, be kind.  Don't be afraid to give 100% of yourself to your marriage partner.  They will give 100% back in return, and it will be the most wonderful cherished relationship you can ever have.

Where do you see yourselves in the next 10 years?  

I would like to see us sitting side by side in rocking chairs on our back deck overlooking a beautiful lake, watching our children and grandchildren play.  That sounds perfect to me.
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Almost five years ago I wrote about the construction project at the Hradcanska Metro stop in Prague, Czech Republic.  It was a massive transportation overhaul that included the metro, the bus lines, the tram lines and driving traffic patterns.

My parents happened to live on the corner of the construction and for years had to battle the ever-changing mess.  One day their driveway would be blocked.  The next day all the trams were rerouted to a new stop and the next day a large hole might appear where their sidewalk once was.

One evening after playing in the park Harry and I were confronted with a massive crane, which appeared to be swinging out of control.  The other pedestrians nonchalantly walked around it.  So, Harry and I did the same (having to duck a bit to avoid a large metal beam). We safely made it to the front gate of the house and turned back to look at the damage.  I wrote in my previous post:

I think life gets messy just before we see the end. At times we start a goal or a project or a step of life with a specific end in mind. We know there will be changes and upheavals, but so often we underestimate the truly gut wrenching parts of change and growth. In order for a surgeon to work in the body, he cuts it open and takes organs out. Imagine walking in mid-surgery and expecting everything to look perfectly in place. It's just not the way things work.

Change, even the best change, isn’t pristine.  Planning a life with a person involves some vulnerable moments and messy conversations/changes.  Starting a new job means stepping into an unknown culture and starting from scratch.  Moving to a new city often means lonely nights and frustrating GPS arguments.  But you never get to be intimate and have that long-lasting healthy marriage without first letting down your barriers.  You never rise to a new challenge if you don’t push through the uncertainty of a new job.  You never have a “second home” if you don’t leave your first home and get lost a few times.

Embrace the mess.  Don’t let the mess deter you.  Just because it is messy doesn’t mean it was a wrong choice.  Take a step back and try the following:

#1- Retrace your steps to when you made the initial decision to . . . (fill in the blank of the change/choice here).    How did that decision feel?  What pros and cons did you weigh out?  What made you finally decide to do it?  Was there a confirmation or a moment when you “knew” it was the right thing to do?

#2- What was your initial vision for the outcome?  Remember it.  Look at it carefully.  Are you still moving in that direction? 

If you still feel the decision was right and you are confident that you are moving in the right general direction.  Keep Going!  Just because it is hard, doesn’t mean it isn’t right.

If you never took the time to make an active choice and just impulsively jumped into it, now is a good time to revisit that choice and pretend you are making it all over again.  Look at the pros, the cons and listen to your quiet voice.  Pray, meditate and work through it in your mind.  You deserve peace when you are making a choice.

If you feel good about the choice- Keep Going!

If you feel uncertain- move forward with caution and your eyes wide open.

If you know you made a mistake- turn around.  It’s okay to turn around sometimes.  And sometimes that mistake will save us from a bigger future mistake.

I love this video:

Wherever you are and whatever “mess” you might find yourself in, it is always temporary and it is always a learning opportunity.  We learn more in the middle than we do at the end. 

#3- Record the mess so that you can recall it.  Write in a journal.  Record a video or audio file.  Make a piece of art.  Take a picture.  Just do what you need to do to remember the mess and the struggle you had to endure to get the right place.  These moments of struggle will become cherished memories and will most likely be a source of future inspiration for you.

Looking now at the beautiful street outside of Hradcanska.  It’s hard to believe that it was a construction disaster area in the not-so-distant past.  And the same goes for our lives too.   In just a little while, you will look back and see all the beauty that came from the mess that caused you to doubt.

Face your doubts. Master your fears. “Cast not away therefore your confidence.” Stay the course and see the beauty of life unfold for you.

-Jeffery R. Holland
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You have a sparkly ring, an adoring fiancĂ©, and subscriptions to every wedding magazine under the sun.  So, what' next?

You need a bridal coach.

A what?

A bridal coach.  A bridal coach is a personal coach for engaged women who specializes in helping brides thrive and build their upcoming married lives.  Never heard of it?  You're not alone.  Although bridal coaching has been around for over a decade, it's only recently been mentioned in the media.

Although bridal coaching can’t be labeled “drool-worthy” and doesn’t make for pretty pictures, its long-lasting effects deserve to be considered.  In a day when the average bar-tab for a wedding is well over 2K, spending 1-2K on weekly or bi-weekly personalized coaching services becomes much more doable.

Bridal coaching can make the difference between an overwhelmed, stressed out bride, trying to put out fires and a confident, loving bride who is able to appreciate and celebrate her wedding.  Everyone wants to just relax and enjoy the big day, but it is easier said than done.

Why not shift the focus of the engagement from planning a wedding to building an exciting new life?

Many bridal coaching clients find that by focusing on their lives and fiancés first, they are even more ecstatic and in love with their wedding day.

Bridal coaching with Luminous Brides ( includes an initial 8 weeks of personal coaching that focuses on navigating change, identifying values, and creating stronger personal relationships.  You can see the overview HERE.  After the first 8 weeks, the next three months are spent following up and helping the bride incorporate her goals and values into the chaos of her circumstances. 

A bridal coach is part-cheerleader, part-best friend, part-therapist all wrapped into one.  She builds a personal relationship and helps the bride navigate this massive life change in a positive, empowering way.  Most of the work is done virtually (via Skype, Facetime or the phone) and can be slipped into even the busiest schedule.

With engagement season already in full-swing and wedding season around the corner, consider giving the gift of bridal coaching to the sweet brides in your life.  She will thank you for it!
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