Thursday, July 31, 2008

23 Ways to Keep Your Romance Alive

23 Ways to Keep Your Romance Alive

Ban the quick kiss, share a sexy secret code ... and other itty-bitty ways to make him lovesick for you every day of the week.

In a perfect world, each moment of a relationship would be like that weak-kneed romantic scene in The Notebook when Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams finally get together, kissing in the rain.

So what keeps us from living that swoony, loopy-in-love life? Nothing more than getting stuck in the same day-in, day-out patterns and letting gushiness shift to the back burner. Okay, maybe that and the lack of a beautiful African desert background. Let Cosmo play mushy-moments director and push you to pack as much lovey-doveyness as possible into your daily routine. That means seizing every opportunity to sweeten up even the most seemingly unsentimental times together.

Here, easy but so-worth-it ways to jump-start both of your hearts.

1. Share a Secret Code
Pick a word that's likely to come up occasionally in conversation (heat, midnight, bedroom, whipped cream...) and agree that every time someone uses it, you have to touch — anything from a kiss to a lingering thigh stroke under the table.

2. Transform Dinner into Dining
That midweek post-grind meal you devour together? Make it register off the mush-o-meter with some tiny adjustments to the atmosphere. "Pull out your nicest dishes and light a couple of candles, even if you're just having a mushroom pizza," suggests Gregory Godek, author of 1001 Ways to Be Romantic (Casablanca Press, 2000). "It's the mood, not the food, that sets a romantic scene. So stick a bouquet of daisies from the corner store in the center of the table, lower the lights, and turn up Enrique Iglesias or Bessie Smith. You could even conveniently forget the utensils so you have an excuse to feed each other."

3. Get Swept Off Your Feet
Make up your own tango moves and groove with your guy for 15 minutes while you wait for dinner. Pop in the Marc Anthony CD, then press your pelvises together, entwine your legs, and twist and twirl around the living room. "Slow dancing is so intimate," says Godek. "The way you stand hip-to-hip, block out the world, and sway to each other's rhythms ... now you're really cookin'."

4. Outlaw Grunge-Wear
You and your guy are having a Blockbuster night. But wait, think twice before you change into your lounging-on-the-couch clothes ... you know, oversize T-shirt, shabby sweater. That gear isn't exactly a recipe for a night of making googly eyes. Instead, slip into something a little more comfortable but a lot more cuddle-enticing. "A fitted T-shirt or a semisheer tank top, especially when worn without a bra, is a lot sexier than some too-big shirt you're swimming in," says fashion designer and Cosmo contributing editor Shoshanna Lonstein. "Pair it with your favorite perfectly worn-out blue jeans or khaki cutoffs for a casual but irresistible look."

5. Dish with Him
Flash back to the '50s and get passionate over pots and pans. "Okay, it's totally old-fashioned and cornball, but I find doing dishes together incredibly romantic," says Janet, a 28-year-old chiropractor. "My dishwasher went on the blink one night, and my boyfriend offered to help clean up. We both rolled up our sleeves and got sudsy in the warm water. We talked about the places we'd love to travel to, the crazy things we'd like to try just once in our lives, and our hands kept touching — we just got completely lost in each other as we did this mindless activity. It was so sweet and oddly intimate that I haven't bothered to get the dishwasher fixed."

6. Touch Tenderly in Front of the TV
When you're both chilling out in front of the tube, heat things up with some hands-on action. "Give each other mini foot massages while watching the evening news," suggests Laura Corn, author of 101 Nights of Grrreat Romance (Park Avenue Publishers, 1995). "Or lay your head in his lap and let him stroke your hair." For the ultimate drive-in date experience, invest in an extralong extension cord and watch TV outside on the deck or on lawn chairs on the front stoop underneath the stars.

7. Flash Him
When no one's looking, give your guy a sneak peek in public. Granted, it's not exactly violins-in-the-background romantic, but it's certainly guaranteed to send his heart (and pulse) soaring.

8. Send Him a Sweet Afternoon Treat
If you know your guy's facing a particularly grueling, sucky afternoon at the office, call up a local restaurant that delivers and send him an I'm-thinking-about-you lunch, suggests Ilene Rosenzweig, coauthor of Swell: A Girl's Guide to the Good Life (Warner Books, 1999). Let him know dessert's waiting at your place later.

9. Play the Dating Game
Get out of the same old Saturday-night film-and-food groove. For your next date, come up with three out-of-the-ordinary evening ideas — perhaps a starlit ferry ride, a game of mini golf, dinner at a restaurant with a kind of food you've never tried, or even seen, before — and write them down on index cards, suggests David D. Coleman, coauthor of Date Smart! How to Stop Revolving and Start Evolving in Relationships (Prima Publishing, 1999). "Then, have your guy blindly choose one of the cards and embark on a mysterious, exotic adventure."

10. Keep Him in the Dark
For the ultimate lights-out love nudge, fake a power outage. "Unplug the phone, computer, and TV, then turn off all the lights," instructs Godek. "With nothing else to distract you, you have no choice but to break out the candles and cling to each other as you tell scary ghost stories ... or just plain cling to each other."

11. Ban the Peck
Replace that chaste, no-effort lip graze with a 10-second smooch — and make every single kiss a bit of bliss.

12. Map Out the Hot Spots in Your Neighborhood
Make it your mission to fool around in every prime passion nook of your neighborhood — behind trees, on nearby park benches, under a lamppost. Every time you walk out your front door with your dream guy, hit one of these desire-designated areas until you have the whole area PDA'd.

13. Write Him a Sexy Check
While you're taking care of the bills, take care of your guy with a personal payment for head-to-toe kisses, suggests Godek. "Tell him he can cash in anytime."

14. Make Out Every Time You're Alone in an Elevator
Use this love-lifter as a cue to sneak in a secret smooch session.

15. Read Seductive Stories to Each Other
Pick up a steamy best-seller like Vox, by Nicholson Baker (it certainly got Monica boiling for Bill), and take turns reading it aloud. "My boyfriend and I love sharing juicy novels," says Liz, a 30-year-old producer. "We'll get in bed or curl up on the couch and take turns being the narrator. At first I was a bit nervous and rigid — I sounded like Rod Serling from The Twilight Zone — but eventually I found my natural rhythm and got really turned on by it. It's so utterly romantic because we're in this sort of fantastical fictional world together rather than sticking our noses in our respective books. And listening to my boyfriend's voice is unbelievably sexy."

16. Go Postal
Create some surprising postal passion by mailing I-want-you notes to your man. Start by telling him exactly what you love about every part of his body.

17. Play Barber Babe
Show your man some passionate pampering by giving him a sensual shave. After his morning shower, lather up his face with a great-smelling shaving cream and slide the razor in the direction the hair grows. "It's a way to steal a very intimate moment when you're both usually so rushed to get out the door," says Kelly, a 26-year-old massage therapist who loves to groom her guy. "Not to mention the perfect excuse to straddle him."

18. Tempt Him with a Slew of Where-to-Find-You Clues
Make your usual rendezvous a million times racier by keeping them mysterious for your man. "I have a standing Friday-evening drink date with my boyfriend," says Sue, a 27-year-old tax attorney. "To keep it exciting, I have this trick for spicing things up: I send him on a treasure hunt ... to find me. I pick an obscure, out-of-the-way bar, one we'd never normally go to in a million years. Then every hour on the hour during the workday, I send my boyfriend an e-mail feeding him clues about where I want him to meet me that night — little riddles that hint at the name, landmarks that will lead him to the location. When he puts all the pieces together, he finds me waiting in the most private booth I can find. Now he's scheming up the next mystery meeting."

19. Hold the Sports Section Hostage
Steal the paper before your guy gets a chance to check out the scores. Place a ransom note on his pillow and insist that your demands for a.m. sex, smooching, and snuggling be met before you'll consider giving him access to the stats.

20. Outlaw Work Talk
Make office gripes and groans a taboo topic when having dinner with your doll. "My boyfriend and I make meals our time," says Anne, a 29-year-old furniture maker. "We talk about upcoming vacations, friends, movies — anything that lets us share ideas instead of bombarding each other with tales of work woes. After eight hours of focusing on other people on the job, it's such a luxurious treat to indulge in some time that's all about us." If professional topics accidentally pop up, quash them by saying, "Get your mind out of the grind and back onto me."

21. Give Him an All-Day "Scentual" Reminder
"The next time your guy sleeps over, spritz a small item of clothing — scarf, underwear, camisole — with your signature fragrance, and slyly slip it into his briefcase or backpack," suggests author Corn. "With your sexy scent wafting out every time he reaches into his bag, he won't be able to take his mind off of you." When the clock strikes 5, he'll follow his nose all the way to your front door.

22. Get a Sound Track
Create your relationship repertoire by picking a few favorite songs (a sentimental score, a sultry in-the-mood croon, a sassy "Feel the Earth Move"-type number) that really capture the essence of your couplehood and make them yours by playing them on romantic, sexy occasions.

23. Compliment Each Other in Public
"My girlfriend tells everyone that I'm the most talented person she's ever met," says Andrew, 28, a teacher. "She'll tell a cashier, 'We'll take a chocolate brownie because my guy so deserves it.' When she introduces me, she says, 'This is my hilariously funny boyfriend' or 'Meet my handsome boyfriend. He puts George Clooney to shame.' My heart jumps every time. I swear it makes going to the deli sexy."

Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Destination Wedding Workbook Pt III

The Destination Wedding Workbook
by Paris Permenter & John Bigley, editors of

Would you like to get married on your honeymoon?

Destination weddings are becoming more and more popular. Around the world, you'll find hotels and resorts that offer on-site help to plan your wedding, from details like the wedding license to extras such as music and photos.

To help couples, we've written The Destination Wedding Workbook, a 158-page guide that covers everything you need to consider when planning a destination wedding. Whether the special day involves just the two of you or whether you'll be inviting friends and relatives to join in the occasion, this workbook includes timelines, worksheets, questions you MUST ask, and more!

We have compiled this book following hundreds of interviews with wedding planners, hotel managers, food and beverage managers, travel agents, and brides just like you. This guide includes:

* Budgeting for your destination wedding
* Budgeting for your honeymoon
* Questions for each other about the wedding
* Questions for other brides
* Questions for resort wedding coordinators
* Questions for local wedding planners
* Questions on traveling to international destinations
* Your Travel Itinerary
* Cruise Passenger Itinerary
* Emergency numbers worksheet
* Confirmation number worksheet
* Wedding coordinator worksheet
* Newspaper announcements
* Timeline
* Save the date card
* Guest list
* Guest newsletter
* Site inspections
* Group airline arrangements
* Booking a room block for guests
* Reception worksheet

Friday, July 25, 2008

Destination Weddings Pt II: Where to Marry

Destination Weddings: Where to Marry

Where will the two of you marry? Do you dream of an intimate beach ceremony as the sun slips into a tropical sea? A regal ceremony set in an historic castle? A mountain chapel with a handful of your family and friends?

You've got a world of choices -- now all you need to do is match your dream to a destination. Use these pages to start narrowing your choices, based on local marriage regulations, climate, atmosphere, and cost. You'll find details and in-depth articles about destinations around the world in this section.

Step one: are the marriage rules of the destination going to be a fit with your schedule? Some destinations such as France require a long, long residency period, making those locations better for a vow renewal than a destination wedding. Check our database of marriage regulations around the world to see if your dream destination will work for your travel schedule:

Marriage Regulations and Rules: This extensive section covers the details you'll need to know to get a marriage license, from residency requirements to blood tests to paperwork. This section includes the 50 US states and destinations worldwide.

Step two: check out the destinations to find learn more about planning a wedding there:

USA Weddings

Caribbean Destination Weddings

Mexico Weddings

Weddings in Canada, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, and the South Pacific

Step 3: let the planning begin!

Planning a Destination Wedding

Destination Weddings

Destination Weddings: Are They for You?

Many couples are saying "I do" to the idea of destination weddings not only as a way to make the occasion more special, but also as a means of simplifying the whole process.

Would you like to get married on your honeymoon? Destination weddings are becoming more and more popular with couples who are eager to skip the fuss of a traditional wedding and jump right into the fun. Around the world, you'll find hotels and resorts that offer on-site help to plan your wedding, from details like the wedding license to extras such as music and photos. Whether the special day involves just the two of you or whether you'll be inviting friends and relatives to join in the occasion, a destination wedding can be a way to create wonderful memories.


Destination weddings have caught on for several reasons. According to hotels and resorts around the world, they're especially popular with:

* couples on a budget who don't want the expense of an elaborate wedding.
* couples who don't want the fuss of a wedding and all that goes with it at home.
* couples on their second marriage looking for something a little different.
* those on their second marriage who'll need to bring along children on the
honeymoon. The children's programs at many resorts offer privacy for
the couple and a chance to enjoy a vacation with their new family.
* couples who are bringing a small wedding party. Sometimes the bride and groom
stay at one resort and the wedding party at a neighboring resort, giving
everyone privacy. Couples who are bringing a sizable wedding party and
would like to take over a resort.

Many small resorts like Florida's Little Palm Island offer groups the option of taking over the entire property. This type of stay must be arranged far in advance. The wedding party has the run of the resort for their stay, with plenty of room to party and play. "Little Palm Island is a really private, secluded getaway for wedding groups," explains Susan Belanski, Director of Sales. "We close off the entire island." When wedding parties take over an entire property like Little Palm Island, regular house rules, such as no guests under age 16, are suspended so wedding parties can invite anyone of their choice.


Before you say "I do," plan to do a little research into the "do"s --and "don't"s -- of the local marriage laws. Many countries have loosened their marriage regulations, making it easier for foreigners to tie the knot. Even so, you'll need to do some research.

"The reason some couples have problems with their overseas wedding is that they are unfamiliar with the marriage laws, rules and regulations. In researching your destination wedding, couples make sure they learn:

* if their home country will recognize a wedding in the designated
country as valid
* the minimum residency period before the marriage can be performed
* what paperwork you'll need to bring from your hometown house of worship
if you're planning a religious ceremony
* what proof is required if you're divorced or widowed
* if blood tests are required and, if so, if you can bring them from your
home doctor or if must they be performed locally
* if there will be English-speaking staff members available to assist you
* costs and fees
* typical weather during the month of your wedding
* special hotel rates for members of the wedding party
* what previous experience the hotel or resort has in planning foreign weddings

Destination weddings can also lead to another joyous celebration: destination anniversaries. Couples who wed on their honeymoon can revisit the very spot where they married and share the memories of that occasion.

by Paris Permenter & John Bigley

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Plan for a Wedding Day, Prepare for a Lifetime of Marriage

Plan for a Wedding Day, Prepare for a Lifetime of Marriage
I love weddings. I love the idea of giving yourself completely to the one you love and who loves you back. A wedding represents such a special union between two people and it should be celebrated. It should even include all the beautiful details we dream about from childhood and the pages of the latest bridal fashion magazines. With that I have to admit, as much as I love weddings and the details that go into planning a perfect day, I am more in love with marriage itself and the whole process a couple needs to go through to "learn" each other. (Notice I didn't say teach.)It is true that marriage isn't easy, but nothing worthwhile is ever easy. We always have to work for the things we appreciate most.Take my advice: When planning a wedding, first things first, register for couples education.This will be your most important task when planning a wedding. The choices you make now before you wed will determine the success of your marriage and relationship. "Love Is Blind" and the divorce rate is a statistic that proves this saying all too well.You and your mate need to take responsibility for the future of your marriage. Unless you have been well trained and educated in relationship 101 or marriage boot camp, you can only be realistic that you need some guidance before the big day arrives.Think of it this way...Marriage is like flying a plane. You would never take the controls and fly a plane without education and doesn't just take care of itself. Also, it is inevitable, that as a pilot, you will encounter turbulence, rainy days and stormy weather...(similar to marriage) this does not make you a bad pilot (spouse) you handle yourself in these situations will determine what you're made of. It only makes sense to be prepared with skills and education, so that when you experience turbulence in your relationship you are prepared as a couple to weather the storm.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Rehearsal Dinner What is it?

Rehearsal Dinner What is it?

A rehearsal dinner is typically an informal meal after a wedding rehearsal, which takes place the night before the actual wedding. It's a chance for the wedding party to get to know each other better, and most importantly, it's a chance for the bride and groom to thank all the people who have helped them out with the wedding planning.

Do I have to have one?

You don't have to have one, but there are very few reasons not to. You're going to need to eat on that night anyway, why not eat with your loved ones?

Who pays?

Traditionally the groom's parents pay but nowadays you'll often see couples include the cost in their overall wedding planning budget. Another scenario is for both parents to host it together.

Who plans it?

It is traditionally the realm of the groom's mother. Check in with your mother-in-law and see if she is willing and able to do so. If she wants to, it's a good idea to let her – it gives her a role in the wedding and even if the rehearsal dinner is completely different from your taste, guests will presume that you didn't plan it.

What happens at a rehearsal dinner?

Along with eating, of course, the bride and groom offer up thanks and toast their families and the wedding party. There are often many other informal toasts. Sometimes this toasting becomes a roasting of the bride and groom – but it's all in good fun. You may also plan ice-breaking games or other activities including poker, pool, darts, a short funny home-movie, or backyard games. If you're not having a bridesmaid's luncheon, this is also an appropriate time to give bridesmaids and groomsmen gifts.

How do I invite my guests?

Typically, printed invitations are sent a few days after you send the wedding invitation. These don't need to be elegant and expensive – the easiest thing to do is to get the templates to print on your home computer.

Do I have to invite out-of-town guests?

Once upon a time, a rehearsal dinner was only for the wedding party and the immediate family of the bride and groom. Now, wedding magazines will tell you that you have to invite all of the out-of-town guests. Here's my opinion: it is a nice gesture, so that you don't leave them at loose ends in a strange town the night before the wedding. However, if you don't invite them, you can include a list of restaurants or things to do in the area on your wedding website. Also, you can hold the rehearsal dinner on the early side, and then include a note in your invitations saying "If you're in town the night before the wedding, we'd love to see you! We'll be at the East Side Pub after 9 pm – please join us if you can make it." A nice touch is to get the bar to provide pub snacks and appetizers to your guests, which will still be less expensive than providing them dinner.

What if I can't afford a rehearsal dinner?

First, reexamine your expectations – it doesn't have to be some grand formal thing at a restaurant or catering hall. Some of the best rehearsal dinners I've seen are relaxed backyard barbecues which allow people to really get to know each other. Set up a volleyball net or get a game of touch football going. It can even be a potluck. But do have one – it's your opportunity to thank all the people who made your wedding day possible.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Wedding Trivia

National Association of Wedding Ministers

Wedding Trivia

Seeing an open grave, pig, or lizard on the way to the ceremony, or hearing a crow after dawn on the morning of the wedding are all thought to be omens of bad luck. Catching a glimpse of a monk or a nun is also thought to be a omen of misfortune because of their association with poverty and chastity.

Among the Germanic Goths of northern Europe in 200 A.D., a man usually married a woman from within his own community. However, when there were fewer women, the prospective bridegroom would capture his bride from a neighboring village. The bridegroom was accompanied by his strongest friend (or best friend), who helped him capture his bride.

This term has many origins from different cultures. In Anglo-Saxon times, the groom had the help of "bridesmen" or "brideknights" to help him capture and/or escort his bride. Later they would make sure that the bride got to the church and to the groom's home afterwards. The women who accompanied and assisted the bride were called "bridesmaids" or "brideswomen".

Bridal showers were meant to strengthen the ties between the bride and her friends, provide her moral support, and help her prepare for her marriage. Gift giving at showers dates from the 1890's.

The tradition of bridesmaids dressing the same as each other and in similar style to the bride comes from ancient days when it was believed that evil spirits have a more difficult time distinguishing which one is the bride and putting a hex on her.

In the 1st century B.C. in Rome, the cake was thrown at the bride or broken over her head as one of the many fertility symbols which then were a part of the marriage ceremony. Cutting the wedding cake together, still a predominant ritual at weddings, symbolizes the couple's unity, their shared future, and their life together as one. The three tiered cake is believed to have been inspired by the spire of Saint Bride's Church in London, England.

Traditionally, the bride had to enter her new home the first time through the front door. If she tripped or stumbled while entering it was considered to be very bad luck. Hence the tradition of the groom carrying the bride over the threshold.

The diamond engagement ring originated with King Maximillian who presented Mary of Burgundy with a diamond ring in 1477 as a token of his love.

The Venetians Popularized the custom during the 15th. century. Since the diamond was the hardest and most enduring substance in nature it followed that the engagement and marriage would endure forever.

As civilizations developed, political, military, and economic ties became very important to prominent families and clans. Arranged marriages were a means of cementing ties between families, middle class family businesses, and countries. A man's daughters, who were considered to be his property in those days, provided a means of securing needed alliances with other families. Thus dowries were introduced as a means attracting and securing the most beneficial family alliances possible.

In 860 A.D., Pope Nicholas I decreed that an engagement ring become a required statement of nuptial intent. He insisted that engagement rings had to be made of gold which signified a financial sacrifice on the part of the prospective husband.

From the earliest times, brides have adorned their hair with flowers and carried bunches of flowers. Traditionally, each type of flower had a special meaning and significance in and of itself. Flowers were often thrown at the couple after the ceremony. However today, most brides pick their flowers for color and personal appeal not based on the traditional meaning of particular flowers.

The groom's flower, worn on his lapel, usually matches one of the flowers in his bride's bouquet. This tradition goes back to medieval times when knights wore the colors of their lady in tournaments.

In parts of Europe during the 14th contrary, having a piece of the bride's clothing was thought to bring good luck. Guests would literally destroy the brides dress by ripping off pieces of fabric. In order to prevent this, brides began throwing various items to the guests - the garter belt being one of the items.

In order to avoid this problem, it became customary in the 14th century for the bride to toss her garter to the men. Sometimes the men would get drunk, become impatient, and try to remove the garter ahead of time. Therefore, the custom evolved for the groom to remove and toss the garter. With that change the bride started to toss the bridal bouquet to the unwed girls of marriageable age. Tradition says that whoever catches the bouquet shall be the next to marry. She keeps the bouquet to ensure this destiny.

Seeing a lamb, frog, spider, black cat, or rainbows on the way to the ceremony is believed to be a sign of good luck!

The tradition of a "Groom's Cake" comes from England and Ireland. There, the traditional groom's cake is a fruit cake with white icing. The groom's cake is usually served along with the traditional wedding cake. Today groom's cakes are very often chocolate instead of the traditional fruit cake.

After "kidnapping" his bride, the groom would take her and go into hiding. By the time the bride's family tracked them down them, the bride would probably already be pregnant! A "bride price" would then be negotiated.

An earlier source is the early Jewish custom of the bride and groom spending a week together alone immediately after the marriage feast. The earliest reference to this practice is Jacob's marriages to Leah and Rachel.

T he kiss dates back to the earliest days of civilization in the Middle East. A kiss was used as the formal seal to agreements, contracts, etc. In Ancient Rome a kiss was still being used as the legal bold to seal contracts. Hence the obvious use of the custom at the end of the wedding ceremony to "seal" the marriage vows. It also originates from the earliest times when the couple would actually make love for the first time under the eyes of half the village!

It was the largest mass wedding in history, when nearly 21,000 couples from the Moonie cult all got married on the same day. The event was also 'attended' by another 9,800 couples who took their vows via a satellite link.

Sir Temulji Nariman and his wife Lady Nariman were hitched for a grand total of 86 years, although they did have a distinct advantage over most people. Both were aged just five when they got married.

According to an old legend, the month in which you marry may have some bearing on the fate of the marriage:

* " Married when the year is new, he'll be loving, kind and true;
* When February birds do mate, you wed nor dread your fate;
* If you wed when March winds blow, joy and sorrow both you'll know;
* Marry in April when you can, joy for Maiden and for Man;
* Marry in the month of May, and you'll surely rue the day;
* Marry when June roses grow, over land and sea you will go;
* Those who in July do wed, must labour for their daily bred;
* Whoever wed in August be, many a change is sure to see;
* Marry in September's shrine, your living will be rich and fine;
* If in October you do marry, love will come but riches tarry;
* If you wed in bleak November, only joys will come, remember;
* When December snows fall fast, marry and true love will last".

Of course, it's a sad fact that not all marriages last. But some people really do seem to make a habit of getting divorced. The person who is credited with being married the most times is former Baptist minister Glynn Scotty Wolfe, who has taken on 28 brides - and divorced 27 of them.

Wedding dresses can make a major dent in your budget, but however much you spend it will be nothing compared to the outfit created by French designer Helene Gainville. Estimated to be worth a cool £3.5 million, the dress is embroidered with diamonds mounted on platinum. Not the sort of thing you would want to put in the attic after the wedding day.

The oldest recorded bride was Minnie Munro, who got hitched at a sprightly 102 years of age. Minnie, from Australia, wed a toy boy of 82. Britain's oldest recorded bride was just one day off her 100th birthday when she took her vows with a man nearly 20 years her junior. Apparently the age gap was not thought to be a problem for them.

Playing pranks on the newlywed couple was also a tradition, which began with the intentions of warding off evil spirits. Loyal friends of the couple would do this in hopes that the spirits would take pity on the couple for already being picked upon enough, and would then leave the couple alone.

Rice has been used as a symbol of fertility and as a wish for a "full pantry" in various parts of the world from ancient to modern times. In the past, rice was not the only thing thrown at the bride and groom as the left the wedding. Wheat, instead of rice, was thrown in France, figs and dates were thrown in Northern Africa, and a combination of coins, dried fruit, and candy was thrown in Italy. In some European countries eggs are thrown!

Rice is not harmful to the birds that eat it, but an article in California professing this to be the case, has caused birdseed to replace rice at most weddings. Flower petals, confetti, baubles, and balloons are often used today instead of rice.

Rings were used as currency in the Middle East prior to the advent of coinage and were a sign of a persons wealth. In ancient times the wedding ring was thought to protected the bride from "evil spirits". Ancient Roman wedding rings were made of iron.

In early Rome a gold band came to symbolize everlasting love and commitment in marriage. Roman wedding rings were carved with two clasped hands. Very early rings had a carved key through which a woman was thought to be able to open her husband's heart.

In 3rd. century Greece the ring finger was the index finger. In India it was the thumb. The western tradition began with the Greeks who believed that the third finger was connected directly to the heart by a route that was called "the vein of love."

In almost half of U.S. weddings either the bride or groom has been married previously.

This tradition originated in England during the Tudor period. At that time, guests would throw shoes at the bride and groom as they left in their carriage. It was considered good luck if their carriage was hit. Today, more often than not, it is beverage cans that are tied to a couples car instead of shoes. It should also be noted that the English consider it good luck if it rains on their wedding day!

In Sparta, during the height of Greek civilization, soldiers were the first to hold stag parties. The groom would have a party for his friends the night before he was to marry. He would bid farewell to his bachelorhood and pledge his continued allegiance to his comrades.

In early times, for Christians, Sunday was the original day of choice for weddings because it was not a work day. The Puritan revolution in England during the 17th century changed all that - because the Puritans thought it improper to be festive on the Sabbath, Saturday.

The tradition of carrying one or more items that are "old", "new", "borrowed" and "blue" also comes from English. There is an old English rhyme describing the practice which also mentions a sixpence in the brides shoe. Something old, signifying continuity, could be a piece of lace, jewelry, or a grandmother's handkerchief. Something new, signifying optimism in the future, could be an article of clothing or the wedding rings. Something borrowed, signifying future happiness, could be handkerchief from a happily married relative or friend. Something blue, signifying modesty, fidelity and love, comes from early Jewish history. In early Biblical times, blue not white symbolized purity. Both the bride and groom usually wore a band of blue material around the bottom of their wedding attire, hence the tradition of "something blue". Originally the sixpence was presented to the bride by her future husband as a token of his love. Today, very often, it is the bride's father who places a coin in the brides shoe prior to leaving home for the church.

The term "tie the knot" also goes back Roman times. the bride would wear a girdle that was tied in many knots which the groom had the "duty" of untying.
is the most popular day for wedding now.

The term originates from the sixteenth century. At that time a small piece of bread would be placed in a goblet of wine. The goblet would be passed from guest to guest until it reached the person being honored who would drain the goblet and eat the morsel of bread in the bottom. This tradition is practiced at weddings today - usually in the form of one or more champagne "toasts". The best man has the honor of giving the first toast. Usually the bride and groom remain seated for the toasts while all the guests are usually standing to honor them. The couple may then make a few remarks thanking their families, wedding party members, and guests. They may also "toast" each other or share a "toast" together. Often special glass or silver goblets are used by the bride and groom.

The tradition of tying tin cans to the back of the newlywed's vehicle originated long ago when items which would produce noise were tied to the back of the couple's carriage to scare away evil spirits.

Brightly colored veils were worn in ancient times in many parts of the world and were considered a protection against evil spirits Greek and Roman brides for yellow or red veils (representing fire) to ward off evil spirits and demons. At one time, Roman brides were completely covered with a red veil for protection.

In early European history, with the advent of arranged marriages veils served another purpose - to prevent the groom from seeing the brides' face till after the ceremony was over. Brides began to wear opaque yellow veils. Not only could the groom not see in, the bride could not see out! Therefore, the father of the bride had to escort her down the aisle and literally give the bride to the groom.

Nellie Custis, the daughter of Martha Washington, is credited with wearing the first lace veil.

Today, prior to a Jewish wedding ceremony, it is the groom who ritually "veils the bride". This tradition goes back to the marriage of Jacob to Leah (the older sister) when he thought he was marrying Rachel (the younger sister) whom he loved.

The reason that the engagement ring and wedding band is worn on the fourth finger of the left hand is because the ancient Egyptians thought that the "vein of love' ran from this finger directly to the heart.

Although some brides were kidnapped, marriage by purchase was the preferred method of obtaining a wife. The "bride price" could be land, social status, political alliances, or cash. The Anglo-Saxon word "wed" meant that the groom would vow to marry the woman, but it also referred to the bride price (money or barter) to be paid by the groom to the bride's father. The root of the word "wedding" literally means to gamble or wager!

The tradition for the bride to wear white began in the 16th century and is still commonly followed today. This is a symbol of the bride's purity and her worthiness of her groom. The tradition became solidified during the time of Queen Victoria who rebelled against the royal tradition for Royal brides to wear silver. Instead, the queen preferred the symbolism, which is expressed by wearing white. The brides of the time quickly emulated the queen, and the tradition has continued in full force to this day.

After the bridegroom captured his bride, he placed her on his left to protect her, thus freeing his right hand or sword hand against sudden attack.

Until relatively recently, brides were considered the property of their father. Their futures and husbands were arranged without their consent. The marriage of an unattractive woman was often arranged with a prospective groom from another town without either of them having ever seen their prospective spouse. In more than one instance, when the groom saw his future wife, usually dressed in white, for the first time on the day of the wedding, he changed his mind and left the bride at the altar. To prevent this from happening, it became "bad luck" for the groom to see the bride on the day of the wedding prior to the ceremony.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Let's Talk About Cake

The Wedding Cake . . . history, customs and traditions

The history of the wedding cake goes back as far as the Roman Empire, well before the concept of elaborately icing a cake, was invented. Through the years, the wedding cake has become the focus of a variety of customs and traditions. Some of these customs have survived through time. Some have not. The custom of breaking the cake over the bride's head, is no longer practiced. The tradition may have its roots as far back as the Roman Empire. The groom would eat part of a loaf of barley bread baked especially for the nuptials and break the rest over his bride's head. History tells us that breaking the bread symbolized the breaking of the bride's virginal state and the subsequent dominance of the groom over her. As wedding cakes evolved into the larger, more modern version, it became physically impractical to properly break the cake over the bride's head. The tradition disappeared fairly quickly in some places, but there were still reports of breaking an oatcake or other breakable cakes over the bride's head in Scotland, in the 19th century. It's reported that in Northern Scotland, friends of the bride would put a napkin over her head and then proceed to pour a basket of bread over her. It's hard to say why some traditions endure and some do not, but the obvious male chauvinistic bent of this particular tradition probably leads to its early demise.

In Medieval England, cakes were described as breads which were flour-based foods without sweetening. No accounts tell of a special type of cake appearing at wedding ceremonies. There are, however, stories of a custom involving stacking small sweet buns in a large pile in front of the newlyweds. The couple would attempt to kiss over the pile. Success in the process was a sign that there would be many children in their future. .

First appearing in the middle of the17th century and well into the early 19th century, was a popular dish called the bride's pie. The pie was filled with sweet breads, a mince pie, or may have been merely a simple mutton pie. A main "ingredient" was a glass ring. An old adage claimed that the lady who found the ring would be the next to be married. Bride's pies were by no means universally found at weddings, but there are accounts of these pies being made into the main centerpiece at less affluent ceremonies. The name "bride cakes" emphasized that the bride was the focal point of the wedding. Many other objects also were given the prefix "bride," such as the bride bed, bridegroom and bridesmaid..

By the late 19th century, wedding cakes became really popular, and the use of the bride's pie disappeared. Early cakes were simple single-tiered plum cakes, with some variations. It was a while before the first multi-tiered wedding cake of today appeared in all its glory..

The notion of sleeping with a piece of cake underneath one's pillow dates back as far as the 17th century and quite probably forms the basis for today's tradition of giving cake as a "gift." Legend has it that sleepers will dream of their future spouses if a piece of wedding cake is under their pillow. In the late 18th century this notion led to the curious tradition in which brides would pass tiny crumbs of cake through their rings and then distribute them to guests who could, in turn, place them under their pillows. The custom was curtailed when brides began to get superstitious about taking their rings off after the ceremony..

In the minds of most people, wedding cakes are "supposed to be" white. The symbolism attached to the color white, makes explaining this tradition rather simple. White has always denoted purity, a notion as it relates to white wedding cake icing that first appeared in Victorian times. Another way in which a white wedding cake relates to the symbol of purity, has its basis in the fact that the wedding cake was originally referred to as the bride's cake. This not only highlighted the bride as the central figure of the wedding, but also created a visual link between the bride and the cake. Today, that link is being further strengthened as more contemporary brides have their wedding cakes coordinated with their wedding gown color, even if it's not white!.

Previous to Victorian times, most wedding cakes were also white, but not because of the symbolism. Using the color white for icing had a more pragmatic basis. Ingredients were very difficult to come by, especially those required for icing. White icing required the use of only the finest refined sugar, so the whiter the cake, the more affluent the families appeared. It was due to this fact that a white wedding cake became an outward symbol of affluence..

Wedding cakes take center stage in the traditional cake cutting ceremony, symbolically the first task that bride and groom perform jointly as husband and wife. This is one tradition that most of us have witnessed many times. The first piece of cake is cut by the bride with the "help" of the groom. This task originally was delegated exclusively to the bride. It was she who cut the cake for sharing with her guests. Distributing pieces of cake to one's guests is a tradition that also dates back to the Roman Empire and continues today. Following the tradition of breaking the bread over the bride's head, guests would scramble for crumbs that fell to the ground. Presumably the consumption of such pieces ensured fertility. But, as numbers of wedding party guests grew, so did the size of the wedding cake, making the distribution process impossible for the bride to undertake on her own. Cake cutting became more difficult with early multi-tiered cakes, because the icing had to be hard enough to support the cake's own weight. This, of necessity, made cutting the cake a joint project. After the cake cutting ceremony, the couple proceed to feed one other from the first slice. This provides another lovely piece of symbolism, the mutual commitment of bride and groom to provide for one another..

The Groom's Cake is a tradition that was prevalent in early American ceremonies, but seems to have fallen from favor in most contemporary weddings. The groom's cake was usually dark (e.g., chocolate) to contrast with the bride's cake. The groom's cake appeared at the reception along with the wedding cake. The origin of this tradition is unclear. Some believe it was to be served by the groom, with a glass of wine, to the bridesmaids. Others believe it was to be saved and subsequently shared with friends after the honeymoon. The tradition seems to have survived primarily in the South..

The once simple wedding cake has evolved into what today is a multi-tiered extravaganza. The multi-tiered wedding cake was originally reserved for English royalty. Even for the nobility, the first multi-tiered cakes were real in appearance only. Their upper layers were mockups made of spun sugar. Once the problem of preventing the upper layers from collapsing into the lower layers was solved, a real multi-tiered wedding cake could be created. Pillars as decoration existed long before multi-tiered cakes appeared, so it was a natural progression for cake bakers to try using pillars as a way to support the upper tiers. To prevent the pillars from sinking into the bottom tier, icing was hardened to provided the necessary support. .

There is hardly a bride today who can't resist saving the top layer of her multi-tiered cake. Most couples freeze the cake with the intention of sharing it on their first wedding anniversary. The tradition has its roots in the late 19th century when grand cakes were baked for christenings. It was assumed that the christening would occur soon after the wedding ceremony, so the two ceremonies were often linked, as were the cakes. With wedding cakes becoming more and more fancy and elaborate, the christening cake quickly took a back seat to the wedding cake. When three-tiered cakes became popular, the top tier was often left over. A subsequent christening provided a perfect opportunity to finish the cake. Couples could then logically rationalize the need for three tiers --- the bottom tier for the reception, the middle tier for distributing and the top for the christening. As the time between the weddings and the christenings widened, the two events became disassociated, and the reason for saving the top tier changed. Regardless of the underlying reason, when the couple finally does eat the top tier, it serves as a very pleasant reminder of what was their very special day.

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