Page 1

The Dress.

The Cake.

The Tie-Dyed Flowers? How to turn down advice without hurting friends and family’s feelings.

Page 5

Inside: 2



The One





Who is supposed to pay for what?

Are you marrying Mr./Mrs. Right?

Picking fashionable clothes for the party

Tips on finding a cheap getaway


Checklists Making sure you do not forget anything





The funny things that could go wrong

Creative ways to pop the question


Venues Inside or the great outdoors?

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Special Section

Wedding: 101


ost people, including students, will attend a wedding, participate in a wedding party or have a wedding of their own at some point in their lives. Weddings, however, can break up friendships and cause rifts if not handled properly. Weddings are stressful for everyone, so it is important to know expected roles when involved in them. Kristin Fowler, senior psychology major from Dallas, participated in a wedding as a bridesmaid alongside her sister. “I’m sure we made it harder because of our ignorance about weddings and how to behave during them,” Fowler said. Jacqueline Lawson, a freelance wedding planner in San Angelo who married last year, has advice for couples based on her own experience. “My wedding was complete chaos,” Lawson said. “No one knew what to do or where to be at any point in time. I almost wanted to kick everyone out right then and there. It was bad.” To avoid this situation, it is imperative the bride and grooms’ wishes are met above all else. If you are expected to wear a bright blue tea-length dress homemade by the bride’s grandmother and Wal-Mart gold slippers two sizes too small, do it. Bite the bullet, stuff your feet into the shoes and put a Band-aid on the blisters later. The wedding is something the bride may have spent years imagining, but one false move can ruin it. ‘Bridezillas,’ as they are called in the wedding industry, are boisterous about the quest for a flawless day. It is understandable. This is the single most important day in many women’s lives, so the pressure is severe. Elizabeth McVey, senior English and digital media major from Jacksonville, Fla., who married Kyle McVey in August 2008, offered her perspective on who does what for the wedding. “In my knowledge, the bride pays for everything except the rehearsal dinner, the honeymoon and preacher,” McVey said. “The bridesmaids, groomsmen and children pay for their own clothing and any other expense that comes along with being in the wedding.” Lawson said the bride and groom pay for each other’s rings. The bride and her family are responsible for the gown, wedding

Ceremony Chaos

Understanding roles prevents stress By Emily Cornelius cake, invitations, venue fee, reception, photography and videography, as well as all of the food and entertainment involved. The groom and his family are responsible for the clergyman fee, marriage license, groom’s cake, limousine services if applicable and the rehearsal dinner. The bachelor and bachelorette parties are paid for by the bridal party. They are completely planned and funded by the groomsmen and bridesmaids. “These days, there’s been a shift in responsibility from the entire fiasco being footed by the bride’s father to there being several gray areas,” Lawson said. “It is now

socially acceptable to request the bridesmaids pay for their own dresses, for example.” The bride should offer to pay for hotel rooms for out-of-town guests, but Lawson said it is socially unacceptable to allow her to do so. The out-of-towners should pay their own room expenses, regardless of their role in the wedding. The bridesmaids’ primary job is to help the bride. “I have watched bridesmaid after bridesmaid be the No. 1 source of stress on the bride due to fights within the bridal party,”

Lawson said. Fowler knows first-hand about bridesmaids and stress. “I remember my sister throwing a fit about her dress because she thought it wasn’t as pretty as mine,” Fowler said. “It really threw off the entire dynamic and made the bride really upset and stressed.” Courteous bridesmaids do their best to be polite to the other bridesmaids and never outshine the bride. “Let the bride have her moment,” Fowler said. “Just try to help her de-stress. Humor is a great way to do this.” Bridesmaids assist in sending invitations, make gifts for the guests and attend or sponsor at least one prenuptial party. “I would not put too much responsibility on the bridesmaids,” Fowler said. “I think it is a great idea to hire a wedding coordinator. If not, you may run into a situation similar to ours. It was a train wreck. Luckily the bride was very easy-going about everything and knew how to roll with the punches.” McVey said she ensured her day was stress-free by making schedules and assigning tasks to specific people. The more organized the day is beforehand is inversely proportional to the amount of stress and conflict one may encounter. Groomsmen should offer to pay for their tux rentals and ensure the groom has the marriage license. If the reception has a band, it is proper etiquette for them to dance with the bride, the woman they walked down the aisle and at least one elderly woman in attendance. For guests, the presents they give to the newlyweds should be directly proportional to their relationship to them. If the couple is registered anywhere, they should choose items strictly on their registry, so as to make sure they are giving them something they desire. They also should be on time and respectful. “My general advice would be do your research (actually read the invite and call if unclear) and be prepared for the wedding so you don’t show up and have no clue what is going on,” McVey said. Follow these wedding tips to help the big day go more smoothly, for this is a joyous occasion, and the marriage of the bride and groom should be the only thing on everyone’s minds. E-mail Cornelius at:

Organization helps remove planning woes By Brittany Hegar The arrival of spring means wedding season is just around the corner. Flowers are blooming, the weather is warmer and soon-to-be brides are feeling the excitement, but actually planning a wedding can be daunting. Making checklists is a good first step to tackle the obstacles and hassles because they are common and essential tools for mastering organization when planning the big day. Regardless of size, every wedding has many of the same planning details. But before getting too involved with plans, it is important to know the wedding’s budget. With good planning, wedding planners say brides can have a beautiful and fabulous wedding, even on a modest budget. Krissy Heavin, senior marketing major from Lexington, Ky., who also works as a wedding and event coordinator, cited her experience with how brides can be creative with a smaller budget and still have a great result. “A bride-to-be wanted chandeliers and could not afford it, so I made giant chandeliers out of hula hoops, wrapping silk fabric around them using fake diamonds that were strung on the fishing line to create an elegant, more personal touch,” Heavin said. The next big step is setting the dates, not just the wedding date but also the bachelor and bachelorette parties and showers. After the dates are set in stone and planned, brides need to decide who is going to be in the wedding. Who is the maid of honor? Who will be the ushers? They then need to pick their colors and theme, which will help determine where the wedding ceremony will take place. Following that, brides need to find their wedding dress and choose a loca-

tion for their reception. This is the part where many brides hire a wedding coordinator because of the extensive amount of tasks that have to be planned in a short time period. Technology is making it easier to tackle many wedding tasks. For example, brides can order free and easy online invitations they can personalize and then send out to as many people as possible, not just for the wedding, but for showers or other related events. With one click, brides can know who is coming and who is not in seconds. One company that offers this service is Evite at Christi Stark, advertising manager for the Optimist, used technology in another way to help plan her wedding. “I used the Web site to help me with some ideas that I had in mind,” Stark said. This Web site lists suggestions on how to begin planning a wedding and how to be better organized. Whitney Mann, the campus visits manager in the Office of Admissions, recently married. “I did not stay really organized because I was engaged for a year and I thought it was far away, but it snuck up on me really fast, so I felt crammed when I was planning everything,” Mann said. Mann made checklists to stay on track but said one thing that helped was that she was “a very calm bride” and did not “freak out” the week of the wedding, which made the whole experience more enjoyable. No matter how well brides plan, not everything will go as planned. Stark said her wedding day did not go smoothly. She had made plans with two different family

Before getting too invovled with plans, it is important to know the wedding’s budget. With good planning...brides can have a beautiful and fabulous wedding even on a modest budget. Online Resources

friends. One of them would do the bride’s cake, and one would do the groom’s cake. “My cake came out great, but on the way to the wedding, the groom’s cake slid in the box, so the corners were all smudged and cut off,” Stark said. “So to try and fix the problem, they tied a ribbon around the cake.”

Once the checklists are complete, brides should add one final item — have a great time at their weddings. The most important thing about a wedding is the celebration, not the checklists. E-mail Hegar at:

Special Section

Wedding: 101

Page 3

Indoors vs. Outdoors

Zak Zeinert:: chief photographer

Whichever you choose, prepare for anything to happen By Leah Payne The big day is finally here. The months of planning and preparation have come together, and as you look out onto the crowd of friends and family arriving to your picture-perfect garden wedding, your heart skips a beat with excitement. Then in the distance you hear a rumble, and the unmistakable scent of rain fills the air, and sure enough, it begins to pour down in sheets. What to do? One of the biggest decisions a bride-tobe makes for her big day is whether to have an indoor or outdoor ceremony. This is the foundation for the remainder of the planning process. Many factors need to be considered for both, and brides cannot be too prepared. If your dream ceremony is an outdoor extravaganza, the best way to avoid a scenario like the one above is to take all the precautions to weatherproof your wedding. What does this entail? One of many helpful Web sites for weatherproofing weddings, www., suggests having “inexpensive compact umbrellas in your wedding colors on hand for guests, or renting party tents.” When Katy Geren, senior exercise science health promotion major from Fort Worth, planned her outdoor ceremony in the summer

of 2007, the forecast was rainy most of the summer. To avoid a mishap, she planned for the reception hall to be a back-up venue for guests to quickly move into in case of rain. “I prayed for months in advance that it wouldn’t rain on our wedding day; it rained 15 miles away, but the sky at our ceremony was a dark overcast blue with the sun barely piercing through, and the weather was nice and cool. It was beautiful,” Geren said. Another important aspect of weather planning is the West Texas wind and heat. Keeping cold bottled water on hand for guests during the summer is a good idea, according to To cope with the wind, the Web site suggests anchoring flower arrangements to the ground with landscaping stakes. Bitsy Gregory, owner of Bitsy’s Flowers, said wedding decorators need to use care when dealing with outdoor floral arrangements during hot weather. She said to “avoid setting arrangements out too long before an outdoor ceremony [because] weather conditions can cause wilting.” Gregory also recommends taking pictures of the venue before the ceremony and meeting with the florist at least six months in advance. “It’s the couple’s one day where they

should feel special and have exactly what they want,” Gregory said. “Flowers are God’s way of making people happy; that is why our motto is ‘We deliver smiles.’” An aspect of the outdoor ceremony that often is overlooked is lighting. If a ceremony is held later in the evening, it is imperative the couple plans for ample lighting at the venue. Another suggestion from the Web site is the use of candles. However, if the combination of open flame and wind makes you uneasy, decorative lamps or outdoor lamps are an alternative. If you choose to take a more traditional approach and want an indoor ceremony, do not feel limited to a church or chapel as a venue. Abilene has plenty of indoor event venues that can accommodate larger or smaller crowds. For example, the Lytle Cove Cottage, located on the Old Coleman Highway, accommodates indoor and outdoor ceremonies, and the cottage itself can sleep up to 12 people, which is an ideal place for the wedding party. Another popular venue is Chapel on the Hill, located on campus. Whether the ceremony is indoor or outdoor, catering is an issue. Depending on the venue, a caterer may be provided; if not, it is important for the couple to inform the

caterer in advance if the food will be served inside or outside. This will determine what types of foods will be best and gives the caterer plenty of time for preparation. “Dairy is an absolute disaster for outdoor events,” said Ryan Payne, private event caterer and food expert from San Marcos. “The best way to go for an outdoor reception is small finger foods, fresh fruit or foods that do not melt or spoil in the heat.” Payne said the food options are endless for indoor receptions. “I personally recommend a sit-down dinner since the setting is more formal. There are caterers who are willing to accommodate a broad range of requests,” he said. “Budgets are obsolete; you can always find a caterer who is willing to entertain the simplest or most elaborate requests.” After making the decision of whether your ceremony will be indoor or outdoor, the real planning can begin. Although your wedding day is never completely predictable, following these few helpful hints can prevent that drop in your stomach when you hear the dreaded sound of rumbling thunder on your special day. E-mail Payne at:

Special Section

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Wedding: 101

Ceremony Hijinks: Stories of how some turned the ‘Big Day’ into a big joke By Allie Waters

L Zak Zeinert :: chief photographer

Is he/she the one? Making sure it’s the right person By Brian English


hile cake flavor, type of flowers and wedding venue are all considerations that surround the planning of a wedding, the question that should precede the planning is: Are you marrying the right person? While this question requires much soul searching and true self-discovery, several tools are available to help aid in this discovery, some of which can be found on campus. Mark Lewis, assistant dean for Spiritual Life and Chapel Programs, has a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy, and offered advice about discovering if the person you are marrying is right for you. “Make sure it’s someone you love being with, someone who you want to talk to about everything, someone who makes you laugh, think, dream, someone who listens to you and is completely devoted to your well-being,” Lewis said. He recently gave away his daughter at the wedding altar. “When Casey and Mason decided they wanted to get married, we talked about the importance of love and commitment in their relationship,” he said. “Love is an emotion; commitment is a state of mind.” The University Counseling Center, located in the basement floor of McKinzie Hall, offers relationship and premarital counseling for students. “Marriage is one of the most, if not the most important decision, in a person’s life,” said Steve Rowlands, director of the University Counseling Center. “A couple should go slow and take time to ask questions, get to know each other, get to know their families and, importantly, get to know themselves.” The University Counseling Center has four trained and licensed counselors available to student couples that are questioning marriage or already are engaged. “Premarital and relationship counseling sessions are a way to enhance a relationship and can be a vital preventative tool for couples,” Rowlands said. “The importance of premarital counseling and its use in our society is even recognized by the state. If a couple does a certain amount of counseling with a licensed counselor, the state will give a discount on the marriage license.” Another location on campus available for students to receive information and help is the Marriage and Family Institute located on the second floor of the Biblical Studies Building. “We have encouraged couples thinking about engagement and couples already engaged to talk with us regarding their possible future and any questions they might have,” said Dr. Jackie Halstead, chair of marriage and family therapy. Among the different questions that can be discussed with the institute, the question of whether or not a person is the right one is common. “It is a very healthy and normal question for individuals or couples to ask,” Halstead said. “And we do our best to provide resources to help answer that important question.” Aside from talking with trained counselors, another resource offered to questioning couples is a test called the Prepare/Enrich assessment test. The Prepare/Enrich test is taken by both individuals in the relationship and involves a series of questions regarding each individual and the relationship. It is used by both the University Counseling Center and the Marriage and Family Institute. After completion, the test is sent to a company, which compiles the answers received and puts the couple in various categories based on the responses given. The test is an assessment and looks at each individual’s strengths and weaknesses in relationship-related areas. “The Prepare/Enrich test is based on various factors that determine the type of re-

lationship you have, whether it be healthy, conflictual, etc.,” Halstead said. If a couple is uneasy with going to counseling sources to discover the answers to the many questions involving whether or not their significant other is right for them, other resources are available. For instance, the Prepare/Enrich test can be found in an online format at The Web site has various topics and resources available to visitors. Training sessions, programs and a variety of books that explore different marital topics are accessible to couples looking for “premarital preparation and marriage enrichment,” according to The Web site is run by Life Innovations Inc., and was created by Dr. David Olsen. Some individuals and couples may ponder whether premarital counseling is necessary or essential to the process of discovering whether or not marriage is the next logical step, or even if the two individuals are truly right for each other. “We encourage that couples seek our help and use preventative counseling methods before marriage to better learn about one another, discover and strengthen the bond of the relationship,” Halstead said. By using such counseling methods and resources, a couple can open up about their inner feelings and discover how compatible they truly are. Using such methods to discover if the significant other is the right person to marry also can illuminate the various strengths and weaknesses found in a relationship. “Our parents and minister both pushed the idea of premarital counseling and programs to help us grow together within our relationship,” said Derrick Lott, former Hardin-Simmons University student who now lives in Dallas. Lott and his fiancé Nicole both took the Prepare/Enrich assessment test after discussing premarital counseling with their minister, Pastor Rick Daniels, who plans to marry them in the fall. “We took the test and didn’t get the best result possible, but also not the worst category available,” Lott said. “The test showed our strengths and weaknesses weren’t always the same, but it gave us something to look at and take with us to improve our relationship and make it stronger in the areas that were vulnerable.” Taking the assessment test and having discussions with premarital counselors proved positive in helping Lott and his fiancé answer whether they were right for each other. While the test did give some negative feedback about their relationship, that feedback presented ways to better improve and strengthen their relationship. Taking premarital counseling and tests can help answer whether or not you are marrying the right person and provide ways for a couple to improve and enhance their relationship. It also can prepare the couple for a strong and enriched marriage. “Premarital counseling is a great tool to help individuals and couples create a strong bond that will last through trying situations,” Halstead said. “Those who do six to eight sessions of premarital counseling with a trained therapist tend to have a higher marital success rate.” Premarital counseling is not just about discovering whether or not the choice to marry your significant other is right, but also how to make the marriage function properly, efficiently and endure, for better or worse.

E-mail English at:

ittle girls dream of the perfect wedding and all it entails: the flowing dress, red flowers, fancy hair and shining ring. The only problem is the perfect wedding does not exist. Purposeful jokes and bloopers abound during wedding ceremonies and receptions. Steve Ridgell, the director of ministries for Herald of Truth, has presided as minister in more than 100 weddings. With 35 years of experience, he has witnessed a number of wedding jokes and mishaps. Intentional jokes typically have come from the groomsmen, Ridgell said. For example, he witnessed a best man, who happened to be the groom’s father, hand the groom a shotgun shell instead of the ring, and another best man acted like he lost the ring entirely. Ridgell said anyone who wants to pull a prank should do so at the wedding rehearsal instead of the actual ceremony. Even with this advice, people continue to create hoaxes during the big day. Some couples discuss the possibility of a light-hearted wedding ceremony that will entertain their guests. One couple Ridgell married had the groomsmen walk out to ZZ Top, a rock artist from the ’70s. Ridgell said another intentional joke he witnessed was a choral group singing The Fight is On as the bride and groom exited the wedding rehearsal. This song is an old hymn but was used to imply what the couple was getting into by entering marriage. Ridgell said he has heard this song many times and always laughs because it never gets old. Nathan MacDonald, senior advertising/ public relations major from Hillsboro, said the ring bearer in his wedding walked down the aisle, and instead of standing with the men, followed a bridesmaid and stood on the other side. It took him a few minutes to realize he was on the wrong side, and then he proceeded to join the men, MacDonald said. Mike Cope, adjunct instructor of Bible, missions and ministry and long-time preaching minister at Highland Church of Christ, said he remembered an outdoor wedding that got too hot for the ring bearer. “He started stripping off clothes,” Cope said. “First he took off his coat. He waited a bit and was still hot. So he pulled off his vest, then the suspenders. He unbuttoned his shirt but couldn’t ever figure out the cufflinks. That is all that saved us from a wedding streaker.” Although the wedding party could not see the ring bearer, the guests could. Although some jokes are set in place on purpose, most mishaps at weddings are unintentional. Ridgell said the father of the bride tends to be nervous, especially in regards to giving his daughter away. Because Ridgell is aware of this underlying nervousness, he coaches the fathers at the rehearsals, so they feel comfortable with the one line they have to say: “Her mother and I do.” At one wedding ceremony, Ridgell was at the front conducting the ceremony and asked who was giving away this woman, and the father of the bride responded by saying, “Her father and I do.” Several snickers came from the crowd, and Ridgell whispered the correct line to help the nervous father. But he repeated, “Her father and I do.” Once he realized he had been saying it wrong, the father, the guests and Ridgell had a few laughs. Some couples like the use of unity candles in the ceremony. The problem with using these candles is the fact they are taken out of the candleholders and then

replaced, sometimes loosely. While ministering at a wedding at Chapel on the Hill, Ridgell had a couple that chose to use unity candles. After replacing the candles in the holders, Ridgell

At one wedding ceremony [the minister] was up at the front of the room conducting the ceremony and asked who was giving away this woman…the father of the bride responded, ‘Her father and I do.’ said everything seemed fine and he kept on with the ceremony, only to look at his wife’s face, which expressed horror. After hearing several gasps from the guests, Ridgell realized a candle had fallen over and left a long, wax line on the back of his pants. Cope also has ministered at weddings that use unity candles. “Once I had the ceremonious lighting of the unity candle,” Cope said. “I explained the imagery of God taking the two and creating something new. Shortly after the air conditioning kicked on and blew out the candle as they were reciting vows. Not really the imagery you’re hoping for.” During his career, Ridgell has seen multiple wedding veils rip because they were stepped on, men who forgot to zip their pants before walking into the ceremony and confusion about how to kiss. Ridgell said he always advises couples to decide how they are going to kiss before they try it in the wedding ceremony. “I have seen him lean in for a quick one when she wants a long one,” Ridgell said. He stressed the importance of deciding between the two so there is no awkwardness when going in for the kiss. Ridgell also said he has seen more grooms cry uncontrollably than brides. He said brides tend to get the giggles more often during the ceremony. Once the wedding ceremony is over, it may seem the mishaps also are over, but that is not true. Some brides choose bubbles to be blown as they leave the wedding. Others choose rose petals to be thrown, and some choose rice. “I have seen the bride get clobbered with rice,” Ridgell said. “I was like, ‘A little more gently next time!’”

E-mail Waters at:

Special Section

Wedding: 101

Page 5

Love is Blind, Guests are Not: Achieving a picture-perfect wedding party

By Melanie Langston The bride has picked her bridesmaids, and the groom has picked his groomsmen. Now she just has to figure out how to make them all look stunning, but not quite as stunning as her, on the big day. The following are tips and trends to help a bride-to-be choose the perfect attire for her wedding party: For the bridesmaids, as far as working with different body types, A-line dresses and empire waists look good on everyone. “Most girls are choosing a designer and a color and leaving the rest up to their bridesmaids,” said Holly Ward, owner of Belle’s Wedding Photography and employee of Belle’s Bridal Boutique in Abilene. Bridesmaids’ choices depend on how uniform the bride wants them to look, but she also could just give them a color and set them loose. Coordinating without exactly matching can be a good look. “Our most popular colors right now are tangerine and watermelon,” said Brenda Mahoney, manager at David’s Bridal in Abilene. Kelly green, bright yellow and hot pink are being used more for wedding colors. “Bright, bold colors are definitely in right now,” Mahoney said. Brides should keep each of their maids in mind, so they can ensure the colors will complement their hair color and skin tones and not wash them out. Another aspect for them to keep in mind is wearability. Since bridesmaids typically buy their own dress, brides may want to ensure they can and want to wear them again. Tea-length dresses are a great option because they come in a variety of styles. Simply choosing a different fabric can make these dresses more or less formal to match the style of a wedding. Generally, a formal wedding calls for longer dresses, and an informal or daytime wedding allows for shorter dresses. Brides also should not forget about acces-

Illustration by Sarah Depmore

sories. Metallic shoes in silver and gold, even bronze, are extremely versatile and easier to find than a shade that exactly matches the dresses. For jewelry, brides need to let the bridesmaids know what type (pearls, silver or gold) they would like them to wear. For the bouquets, brides can consider having each maid carry different flowers within their wedding colors, and then placing each color of flower in their own bouquet. They also could have the groomsman that each woman is paired with wear a boutonniere made of the same flowers. If the bridesmaids’ dresses already are colorful, they may even have bouquets of various white flowers. For the groomsmen, many different ways ex-

ist for brides to achieve a formal look for the men in their wedding. Many rules also determine what is appropriate for the season and time of day. A good rule of thumb is tuxedos for a formal or evening ceremony and dark suits or blazers with khaki trousers for a more casual event. Long ties are appropriate with either and are a more modern choice than the bow tie. If the groomsmen wear blazers, they can match something in their outfits with the color scheme, such as a pocket square or tie. When considering body type, three and fourbutton suits lengthen the body’s appearance. A jacket with peak lapels will help the more slimshouldered man, while the more broad-built should try a single-breasted jacket.

It is a good idea to rent all of the tuxedos from the same store. Shades of black and navy can vary with different fabrics and can really stand out when standing next to each other. If any of the groomsmen live far away, they can get their measurements and turn them in at the store they choose. Groomsmen also should keep in mind that when they rent a tuxedo, the coat, slacks, tie, shirt and vest or cummerbund usually are included. Shoes can be rented too. The rental shoes often are cheaply made and uncomfortable, so they may want to wear their own or buy a new pair. “When ordering tuxes and dresses, it is a good idea to order them all at the same time so they will be ready at the same time,” Ward said. For the flower girl, her dress can either go with the wedding gown or the bridesmaids’ dresses, depending on the bride’s preference. It should not be too long, unless she is used to wearing long dresses, to avoid tripping during the ceremony. The bride should ensure her shoes are broken-in and comfortable so she will feel and look her best and should keep jewelry to a minimum, such as a simple bracelet or small pearl studs for pierced ears. The ring bearer can wear a mini-tux or darkcolored suit, depending on the tone of the wedding. A dark jacket with white shorts and knee socks is another option for summer. Brides should ensure everything fits right and he is comfortable to avoid him tugging or pulling on any part of his outfit during the ceremony. The bride can treat the ring pillow like an accessory – match it to his outfit or her dress, or choose one decorated with flowers or ribbons. Achieving unity with a wedding party’s attire can be difficult with so many people to please, but with a little background research and planning, a picture-perfect party is reachable for any bride.

E-mail Langston at:

Saying ‘No’ Nicely Learn to take suggestions, not orders By Elizabeth McVey

Clever proposals create memories for couples By Becky Easter At first, Oct. 25, 2008, was just another ACU Homecoming for Sara Beckett. It was not until her boyfriend, Jordan Bunch, popped out of her Homecoming float and began singing to her that Beckett considered this day might be extra special. Suddenly, Bunch dropped down on one knee, and Oct. 25, 2008, became Beckett’s engagement day. Proposals are great stories to remember and share with others. They can be defining moments and will hold special meanings for years to come. “I was shocked and completely surprised,” said Beckett, sophomore speech pathology major from Sugar Land, who is engaged to Bunch, senior interdisciplinary Christian ministry and music major from Sunnyvale. “I suddenly didn’t feel like a little girl in pigtails anymore. I was so overjoyed knowing that the person I loved beyond my understanding would actually be the one I got to share the rest of my life with.” Men should get creative when planning proposals, said Michael Rasa, stepfather to Jessica Weersing, junior graphic design major from Carrollton. He planned his proposal to Debbie Rasa for three or four months. The plan was to go to a four-star restaurant in Dallas called III Forks. He suggested they get something to eat after a day of looking for town homes. He asked her to order her favorite appetizer and knew it would be shrimp cocktail. When the shrimp cocktail arrived, it had an open velvet red box sitting right in the center and displaying a sparkling, custommade ring. “I wanted to do something she would never forget,” Rasa said. “Everyone in the room started applauding for us. The guys next to us even ordered us the most expensive bottle of champagne as a gift.” Choosing a familiar, meaningful place to propose is what Logan Watts, junior psychology major from Georgetown, decided to do for his fiancé Becca Frei, junior communication major from Richardson. Tuscany’s is the coffee shop where Watts and Frei visited numerous times on dates, and is a place where Watt’s band, Thus Far, frequently played. Watts and Frei were enjoying a familiar night at Tuscany’s when Watts began singing a song he wrote for Frei. As Frei listened to the song, she received a letter that said, “Will you marry me, Rebecca Lynn Frei?” as well as the lyrics to the song Watts was singing. “I sat looking like a deer caught in headlights, while all of his friends took a bazillion pictures of me,” Frei said. When the song concluded, Watts came over to

Frei and officially asked her to marry him. “Then I started bawling and hugged him along with everyone else in the room,” she said. One way to get creative is to propose on the other side of the world, which is exactly what Michael Reno, junior early childhood education major from Abilene, did. Zambia, Africa, to be more exact. Reno and his fiancé, Michelle Neese, junior speech pathology major from Peoria, Ill., had met two years previously on their Zambia medical mission trip. They once again were together in Zambia after not having seen each other for five months. On the free day of their trip, they decided to visit Victoria Falls, a large, beautiful waterfall. Victoria Falls also is one of their favorite spots in the world. Reno wore a tuxedo T-shirt under his sweatshirt and was prepared to pop the question. After they were able to separate from the rest of their group, Reno complained of being hot and took off his sweatshirt to reveal his T-shirt before proposing. “Nothing came out like it was supposed to,” Reno said. “I couldn’t tell you for the life of me what I said, but apparently it was good enough. She said, ‘Yes.’” What if your engagement took place on the very spot where your wedding will happen? Jay Swinney, junior marketing major from Round Rock, and Laurel Williams, junior health promotions major from Ovilla, will discover what it is like to have one place carry special meaning for two events. Swinney surprised Williams by coming to her home in Dallas, when he previously had told her he was not going to be able to make it. He had told one of Williams’ friends to make plans with her and then to cancel them at the last minute. He also had given her mom the first clue to a scavenger hunt he had set up for her around town. Williams received the first clue when her friend cancelled their plans. The scavenger hunt sent her to places that had sentimental value to the two of them and included notes about aspects Swinney liked about her and memories related to the different places on the scavenger hunt. The ending mark of the hunt was where their wedding would take place, and Swinney was waiting for her with a picnic and candles. Swinney’s advice to men planning to propose in the future includes making the proposal personal to the girlfriend. “I did my best to include things that she likes and finds romantic,” Swinney said. “Also having help is a good way to make sure every detail goes as planned. You hopefully only do this once so you want to make sure it goes right.” E-mail Easter at:

You are engaged; your boyfriend planned the perfect proposal, and you said, “Yes.” You begin to tell everyone you are getting married, and after a few moments of congratulations, they want to know when, where, how and, by the way, are you having tie-dyed flowers for the wedding? When planning your wedding, you may face some awkward situations. You may be prepared to work with different people over several months; however, something no one may have told you about is the advice factor. A wedding somehow creates an open gateway for advice and information, which may sound great to a brideto-be, but the problems begin when certain people think they know what you need or want and have the perfect solution. “I worked with a couple whose mothers could not agree on which side of the aisle the groom’s family sat,” said Dr. Steven Moore, preacher, wedding coordinator and assistant professor of English. “Both mothers were convinced they knew what was correct. It was not until we researched the correct answer and spoke with the bride that the mothers finally agreed.” Moore has worked with a variety of couples over the years. In his experience, he said it is common to have an unexpected conflict of interest. This conflict is often surprising when people honestly and whole-heartedly believe they know what is best for you. They have attended numerous weddings or have this “eye for design.” They know you will love their ideas and let them have free rein of all wedding decorating. It usually is a shock when you are confronted with this type of person. You may have imagined what your wedding will be like, but these plans did not in-

volve this person or his or her ideas. “When I was planning my wedding, I had an aunt who insisted that I use fake flowers because they were just as good as the real thing. But the flowers she was showing me were odd shades and not even a real type of flower,” said Ashley Hammerstein (’07), who married in June 2008. “I had to convince her that I was not going to use them while not offending her because she was one of the people helping me plan.” You may find yourself in an even more interesting position. You are planning your own wedding, but planning a wedding is a considerable task. You want as much help as you can get from friends and family; you want people to pitch in and help make your day perfect, but their help often comes with their input. “I asked my friend for advice on what the bridesmaids should wear, and she assumed that she was in the wedding,” said Brenda Scott, who married in August 1975. “She was so convinced and so honored that I had to keep her in the wedding party because it would have crushed her otherwise. Thankfully it worked out well in the end, but it was not what I had planned at all.” It may be difficult to know how to handle yourself when you are faced with the “advice person.” It is your wedding, and your ideas should be used. But you need to be wise on how you handle these types of people. They are often people who love you, such as your family or an important figure in a friend or family circle. You could just tell them off, but such an action might have unexpected results, especially if the person was the groom’s mother. The following are some tips on ways to handle these awkward situations: n Know that it is coming. When you become

engaged, you may not know everyone is going to have a suggestion or firm belief that your wedding should include certain elements. n Have a plan and take the time to figure out what you really want. It is going to be harder for your crazy aunt to suggest or insist on something when you have a set design for the wedding. n Know you may have to gently hurt feelings. Relatives or friends may become offended if you do not use their ideas. It is at this time that you need to have a rebuttal to their suggestions. “I am grateful for your suggestion but I think we are going to try something different this time. I respect your opinion and I am glad that you want to be a part of my day.” Be firm but gentle. These people are still a part of your life, and you want them to enjoy your day with you and not be fuming in the audience. n Do not forget this is still your day. The day is about your marriage to the man with whom you have decided to spend the rest of your life. It is important to not lose sight of the end goal: your wedded bliss. So if some are mad or upset although you have done your best to appease, let them be mad because this is about you and your man, not them. Your wedding is your special event. The planning of it should not be overly stressful because you are trying to appease everyone. The bride-to-be needs to enjoy the planning and the event without worrying about others. A wedding does not require you to use or take any advice. Your marriage is the ultimate goal on this day, not whether you used your aunt’s tie-dyed flower suggestion.

E-mail McVey at:

Page 6

Special Section

Wedding: 101

Honeymoon on a Budget: Snagging a cheap getaway By Morgan Wilks


ust because you are living on a college student’s budget does not mean you should have to skimp on your honeymoon. This is a vacation you will remember the rest of your life, so make it a trip worth remembering without breaking the bank. With the current economy, some people might be discouraged when considering spending money on their honeymoon. But even on a college student or recent graduate’s budget, newlyweds still can have a great honeymoon. “I think the biggest trend right now is honeymoons on a budget,” said Jennifer Ellison, manager of university events and certified wedding planner. “Everyone wants to know who has the best deals and where they can find the best packages.” Shannon Clark, senior nursing major from Abilene, is engaged to Alan DeZonia, senior accounting and finance major from Ames, Iowa, and already has her honeymoon planned. “We are going to Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, Hawaii,” Clark said. “My fiancé’s grandmother has a time-share there and is letting us stay for free all week.” Susan Crower, owner of Travel Leaders, formerly Carlson Wagonlit Travel, said good values are available, especially in places like San Antonio, Fredericksburg and Dallas that often are overlooked because they are in the area, but these places provide numerous attractions and accommodations for those seeking a romantic and charming environment. “Fredericksburg is so quaint; the river walk in San Antonio and the Gaylord Texan Resort Hotel in Dallas all provide a neat atmosphere,” Crower said. If you want to travel out of Texas, Mexico is still one of the top destinations that gives you more bang for your buck. Offering several options of adult or couples-only resorts, Mexico and the Caribbean islands are two of the most popular destinations right now. Another trend in traveling that is popular are adventure-type destinations. The mountains in the summer are fun and affordable, and activities like hiking and white-water rafting all prove to be a great time for daring personalities, Crower said. When you are planning where to go, think outside of the typical honeymoon. “Places like San Diego, Las Vegas and California are all offering great deals right now, and they have endless things to do and see,” Ellison said. Cruises are another popular honeymoon pick. With their all-inclusive nature, they

provide a great value that is pre-paid before couples go without the balloon payment at the end. “The benefit with cruises is honeymooners don’t have to worry about how much their hotel bill is going to cost, how much they will spend on meals each day or have added expenses of paying to get into the piano bars, Vegas-style shows or other evening entertainment,” said Steve Rice, personal vacation planner and cruise specialist in Boerne. One advantage with cruises is the fact the ship moves each day, so passengers always have something new to see, making it different than staying in one place the whole time, Rice said. Every day offers something new, whether it be laying out or swimming on the ship, horseback riding on the beach or exploring the towns. Of the many cruise lines, Carnival and Royal Caribbean come out on top, Rice said. “These cruise lines generally cater to the younger, middle-age and senior crowd. Some of the other lines just cater to the middle-age group and up,” he said. Kelly Mann, senior interior design major from Houston, recently was married and went on a cruise to the Bahamas for her honeymoon. “It was pretty cheap, and the cruise was nice, but the food wasn’t as good as everyone says it is,” Mann said. “If we could do it over, we would have spent a little more money to go somewhere all-inclusive and a little more private. There were a lot of college students on spring break, and you’re just in such close proximity to everyone else on the ship.” If you are on a strict budget, you can try ways to personalize your cruise to fit your price range. The first way is to pick the number of days your cruise lasts, with five-day or seven-day options. You also can consider a lower-priced cabin; the cost difference between an ocean-view cabin and an interior is about $100 per person. The biggest way to save money is to plan the wedding when it is not peak season. “Most people get married in the summer time,” Rice said. “This is peak season, so you will end up paying 25 to 50 percent more for a cruise or any vacation you take. My suggestion is get married in low season, then you’ll save money and can take cheaper anniversary trips each and every year.” Another thing to take into account when you begin to plan is where you are going at what time of year. If you want to go to a colder-climate state in the winter, do not expect as great of a deal as if you would have gone in the summer.

I think the biggest trend right now is honeymoons on a budget. Everyone wants to know who has the best deals and where they can find the best packages. :: Jennifer Ellison, manager of university events and certified wedding planner

“Fall is the least expensive time to travel in the South, and places aren’t as crowded,” Crower said. Ellison said she recommends visiting Web sites like and www. for ideas of destinations and advice on places to go. She also suggests signing up for major companies’ newsletters, such as American Airlines, Carnival and Hilton, because sometimes they offer deals to subscribers or on their Web sites. Sometimes, when you book rooms, you will be offered incentives. “Some hotels will say if you book four nights, you get the fifth free, or if you book a week, you

get free breakfast everyday. Sometimes those incentives can be a great deal,” Ellison said. Travel agents are a resource to get quality information and deals. They might be able to inform you about something that fits in your price range you might not have known about. “The honeymoon should be planned around six to nine months before the wedding,” Crower said. “We work and try to find what’s in your budget. If you want to go somewhere like Tahiti but your budget will not fit, we will suggest something that is more in your price range, like Mexico.” E-mail Wilks at:

The Optimist - Wedding Section (April 24, 2009)  
The Optimist - Wedding Section (April 24, 2009)  

A special section produced in conjuction with the April 24, 2009 edition of the Optimist. The section printed insde of the April 24 issue.