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BRIDes 2013

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hrowing a party for 150 people is tough. Making a relationship last a lifetime is harder still. And while you’re probably putting an awful lot of time, thought, and money into your wedding, it doesn’t hurt to step back and ask yourself: Are you planning for a day or a lifetime? A wedding or marriage? Party or commitment? The truth is, you’re planning both (hopefully). The less appealing truth is that you will only spend one day of your relationship in a white dress surrounded by friends and family and baked chicken. Statistically, you’re going to spend a greater percentage of your life dusting Cheetos off your sweatpants while lounging on the couch. I don’t say that to imply your wedding day is insignificant, merely to impress upon you that it might be easy to vow “for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and health” without actually considering the worse, poorer, or sickness part of the equation. After all, you’re wearing fancy duds and eating fancy food surrounded by people you love. Or, at very least, people who twisted your arm for an invite to the shindig. So why not pay a teensy bit less attention to silverware and instead sit down for a serious talk about the day-to-day realities of living in the same space [40]? Or take the advice of a divorce attorney and spend a day in divorce court together [19]? It might not be as romantic as a picnic or road trip to the Jelly Belly Factory, but it might promote dialogue and strengthen your resolve as a couple. While we’re on the subject of you as a couple, your wedding is an ideal opportunity to express what’s really and truly important to you. Maybe it’s the 20-pound cat that demands food the second you walk through the door, in which case, you might want to incorporate him into your wedding [15]. Or maybe it’s shared activities like Crossfit or a thirst for adventure, which can be beautifully and creatively captured in engagement photos [22]. Whoever you are, and whatever you’re planning, we’ve got tips, tricks, and outright advice to help you enjoy every second of your big day—and hopefully to prepare for every second of the many days that follow.

6 Get on the same financial page

15 Dogs and cats join the party

11 Plan for your afterlife together

19 Learn from others’ mistakes

22 Meet some engaging couples

40 Learn how to share your space

43 Fight off wedding-day amnesia

Ashley Schwellenbach Managing Editor

2013

1010 Marsh St.

San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

(805) 546-8208

Brides © 2013

4 BRIDES 2 01 3

PUBLISHERS Bob Rucker Alex Zuniga EDITOR Ashley Schwellenbach COnSuLting EDITOR Ryan Miller

CONTRIBUTORS Anna Weltner Matt Fountain Nick Powell Ana Korgan Aleksandr Hewitt Amy Asman PHOTOGRAPHER Steve E. Miller

PRODUCTION Jenny Gosnell Dora Mountain Brendan Rowe EDITORIAL DESIGNER Heather Walter

ADVERTISING Colleen Garcia Rhonda O’Dell Tracey Joyner Scuri Katy Gray Meg Korgan Leslie Neighbors Rene Rodriguez Neila Denneen Nicole Dewey

Please call (805) 546-8208 to make your reservation for the next issue of BRIDES.

R ESERVATION DEADLINE: January 23, 2014 P UBLISHED: February 13, 2014

Brides is published every February throughout San Luis Obispo County and Northern Santa Barbara County.




BRIDES 2 01 3 5


love br i de S 2 013

had long labored under the misguided impression that money management wasn’t sexy. Then I had a chat with Brooke Salvini, CPA/PFS, CFP. “Is it really not romantic, sitting down with the person you love to discuss your future?” Salvini asked. “Money is about goals. What could be more romantic than that?” Salvini, of Salvini Financial Planning in Avila Beach, often works with newlyweds to help them manage debt, make smart investments, and save for the future. Talking about money as a couple, Salvini said, not only helps couples avoid false expectations and prevents moneyrelated arguments down the road; it can also promote intimacy and mutual understanding. “I suggest to my clients to sit down, grab a bottle of wine, light the candles. … Don’t make it a chore. Make it a pleasurable experience,” she said. Salvini’s own life story is one in which romance and money management intertwine. Her first experience with financial planning and coaching was as part of a retreat called Engaged Encounter, an experience offered through the Catholic Church as preparation for marriage. Learning how to approach money as a couple inspired Salvini to help others do the same. Over a nice dinner, even. Maybe while listening to some good jazz records. But once you’ve dimmed the lights, poured yourself a glass of wine—I recommend an Argentinean Malbec, but it’s your call—and turned up the sultry sounds of—I’m going to say Miles Davis, but it’s really up to you; after all, it is your life—what sort of things should couples be talking about?

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for

and money?

L O CA L E x PER T S OF F ER T H E I R A Dv ICE ON T H E S C I N T I L L AT I Ng S U Bj E C T OF M A N AgI Ng MON E Y A S A C OU PL E B Y A N N A W E LT N E R

money is closely tied to personal history. An interview with Katty Coffron, a marriage and family therapist based in Paso Robles, reinforced this. For example, Coffron said, one spouse may shy away from the idea of a joint checking account if he or she has a history of being taken advantage of in relationships. In fact, she said, marital arguments over money are rarely about just that. “Initially, it may be about money, but over time it can turn into, ‘Am I just a source of money for you?’” Coffron said. “It becomes about, ‘Do you love me?’” When it comes to financial matters, or really anything else around which there may be powerful conflicting emotions, she said, the important thing is to be able to communicate despite the presence of those emotions. “It’s about learning how to bring things up to your spouse, without putting them on the defensive,” she said—and

Till debT do uS parT

Another issue Salvini considers is debt, whether from student loans, credit cards, or a mortgage. Unless your partner agrees to share responsibility for that debt—for example, by combining credit card accounts—that debt remains yours, Salvini said. The issue is something the Avila Beach financial advisor has helped many clients get through, by assisting them in structuring their existing debt

MONEY

continued on page 8

Sharing iS caring, kind of

First of all, said Salvini, couples should understand that a marriage is, among many other things, a merging of two people with often vastly different approaches to money—and that how an individual feels about

FILE PHOTO

66 B B RR II D DE E SS 22 00 11 33

conversely, not being defensive oneself. When learning to share money, as when learning to share your life, Coffron concludes, “You work to find your mutual style.” Though Salvini concedes that each couple’s situation is unique, she said her happiest clients are the ones who keep their money together, a move that requires trust and communication and encourages couples to talk about their long-term plans together. When couples choose to keep their accounts separate, Salvini warned, “Now you’re giving yourself a chance not to talk about your shared goals.” However, Craig Darnell, a financial planner with Blakeslee & Blakeslee, said keeping separate accounts could also prove a successful choice—that is, as long as both sides of the relationship are honest with one another. “In the long run, keeping things separate, when they’re open about it, has been a good thing,” he said. Couples must decide how they want to split up the payments they share as well as whether to keep their money separate, pool it together, or maintain both a shared account and their own private accounts.


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experts

accounts for the innate human need to spend exactly the amount that is available to us. Instead, both financial Find out more about Brooke advisors interviewed Salvini at salvinifinancial.com. for this article For more on Craig Darnell, visit recommended setting slofinancialplanning.com. For up automated regular more info on Marriage and Family savings deposits at Therapist Katty Coffron, the beginning of the go to pasoroblesmarriage month. After that counseling.com. money is deposited into your savings account, don’t consider it available. Darnell MONEY from page 6 recommends amassing an emergency savings account payments and in avoiding debt in the with enough to cover your future by establishing good saving basic expenses for three to six habits. months should something go wrong. SavE EaRly!

ThE

In fact, with the aforementioned issues under control, saving money early is something both Darnell and Salvini strongly advise. No matter how small the amount, both emphasize, making regular monthly deposits is key. Many people tend to wait until the end of the month and save what’s left over, a rather ineffective tactic that hardly

ThE noT-TooDISTanT fuTuRE

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are deemed fit to care for the child, he or she may even end up in foster care. “I’ve seen sad stories where a young couple will pass away in an accident and leave behind a 2-year-old child,” Darnell said. “… Clients of mine that are new parents, I’m constantly hounding them to get a will.” Of course, this is all assuming a worst-case scenario, one that most likely won’t happen to you. Even so, being able to talk openly about goals and concerns for the future is good for a relationship, promoting honesty and long-term thinking. So what are you waiting for? Pop that Veuve Clicquot! Throw rose petals all over everything! Run that bubble bath! Just, uh, don’t get your Excel Thinking of setting up a meeting with spreadsheets a financial planner? Here’s what you (and wet. ∆

buy a home, replace a car, or prepare for the birth of a child. The latter is of particular concern to Darnell, who ranks the protection of his client’s children among his biggest priorities. Most young parents don’t think about creating a will, he says, especially if they don’t yet have a lot of money to pass on to their kids. Yet having a legal document detailing their children’s desired guardians should both parents pass away can be vital should the unthinkable happen. Without a will, Darnell says, care of a surviving child is left in the hands of the courts, and if no friends or relatives

What

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your partner) will typically need to bring along: • your tax returns f rom the last two years • your most recent pay stub • statements for any accounts you currently have

Arts Editor Anna Weltner took it there. Contact her at aweltner@ newtimesslo.com.


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death BR I DE S 2 013

S

orry to break it to you, but you’re going to die. And so is your loved one. We all are. It’s a fact of life that doesn’t necessarily need to be discussed as you’re preparing for your big day with the love of your life. But sooner or later—maybe not tomorrow, maybe not even 20 years from now—it’s an emotional and expensive fact that couples have to face. And though pre-arranging traditional services is decreasing slightly in the face of a tough economy, younger couples seem to be planning to take advantage of new alternative ways to rest in peace. In the Funeral and Memorialization Information Council’s 2010 Study of American Attitudes Toward Ritualization and Memorialization, more respondents than ever admitted that they hadn’t pre-arranged their own or their spouse’s burial or cremation. Since the council began conducting its survey in 1990, the percentage of folks who would pre-arrange their services dropped about 10 percent by 2010, from 76 percent to 66 percent. Likewise, those who had actually made their own arrangements dropped similarly, from 34 to 25 percent.

Lov E tILL— anD af tER —

PRe-PLANNING BuRIAL ARRANGeMeNTS MAY Be DOWN AMONG CONveNTIONAL SeRvICeS, BuT FIxeD-COST ALTeRNATIveS GROW IN POPuLARITY WITh YOuNGeR COuPLeS B Y M AT T F O U N TA I N

Genine Phillips, funeral arranger at the San Luis Obispo-based Reis Family Mortuary and Crematory, said these statistics appear to mesh with her professional experience. For traditional services, Phillips said, the average age of the person or spouses coming in to preplan arrangements is about 70. And the number of those coming in ahead of time is dropping. “I’ve seen it back off quite a bit in recent years,” Phillips said. “I think it has a lot to do with the economy. I don’t see a lot of people very secure right now, especially when you have people going back to work

at the age of 60.” And while the overall number of people pre-planning traditional arrangements is slowly decreasing, the average age of those who do isn’t. “We’re not seeing too much of those younger [customers] unless there’s maybe some genetic health concerns in the family. There are those,” Phillips said. “From what I have seen is if they are coming in under the age of 70, it’s because they had that experience with other family members or their parents. You know, I want to take care of this myself so others don’t have to for me. But it’s not as common.”

According the Funeral and Memorialization Information Council’s survey, those who have preplanned services do so for themselves or their spouse so others won’t have to worry. And those who do so pay straight out of their own bank account, not through financing. While the economy and other factors may be contributing to a decline in preplanning services, data shows that the types of services are changing. According to statistics from the National Funeral Directors Association,

DEATH continued on page 12

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THOSE WHO STAY TOGETHER LAY TOGETHER It may not be a topic to discuss on your wedding day, but couples are pre-planning burial arrangements earlier in life—and in increasingly unconventional ways. FILE PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER

DEATH from page

11

burials in caskets still remain the most popular form of interment in the United States. Cremations, said Robert Rosson,

past president of the association, only account for 40.6 percent of all funeral arrangements as of 2010, but that figure has been steadily increasing.

But statistics also show that the trend is changing geographically, Rosson said. Southern states continue to favor old-fashioned burials. In Mississippi,

for example, where Rosson is based, the cremation rate is the absolute lowest in the country, at 13.8 percent in 2010; western states seem to prefer cremation. Nevada, Washington, and Oregon, for example, preferred cremation by 73.4, 70.9, and 69.4 percent respectively. California, in comparison, rests somewhere near the middle, at 57 percent, according to the Cremation Association of America. But cookie-cutter funerals are no longer the only choices couples have when deciding how they wish to have their earthly remains spend eternity. In recent years, other trends in the industry have popped up—and are garnering interest, namely from Baby Boomers who want to plan ahead, and perhaps make a statement. Take Life Gem. The Illinois company creates a certified, high-quality diamond from a lock of hair or cremated ashes, to be worn by family members. They say diamonds are forever, after all. Or how about following the example set by Star Trek’s James “Scotty” Doohan and have ashes of you and your loved one shot out into the final frontier? Space Services, Inc. will get you both there, in

DEATH continued on page 13

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DEATH from page

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a service they call Celestis. A fan of Hunter S. Thompson? While we can’t all have the honor of having our ashes blasted out of an eight-story high Gonzo cannon atop a windswept Colorado mountain to the Dylan tune “Mr. Tambourine Man,” there’s a company out there that offers the next best thing. California-based Angels Flight, Inc. will pack you and your better half’s ashes into fireworks for a hell of a blast-off over land or sea. Then there’s Georgia-based Eternal Reefs. Not your typical end-of-life business, the company’s primary work is building artificial reefs in locales all over the world. Owner and CEO George Frankle told New Times that about 14 years ago, the company came up with a novel idea: Use cremated ashes of individuals or spouses— even pets—to create an artificial reef in one of the many permitted reefs around the country. With this method, Frankle said, customers can be comforted to know that their remains will nurture life. The downside: There are no permitted artificial reefs off of California. However, Frankle said, the company gets more requests for information from California than any other state, and that he hopes that one day there may be an artificial reef

system somewhere off the West Coast. “We have been beating our heads against the wall trying to get a reef program out there,” he said. Eternal Reefs has a very unique program. Their primary purpose is to fund the building of reefs and to educate people about the functionality of those reefs, and they saw the funeral angle as a way to stoke interest. They’ve thus far succeeded, attracting individuals, husbands and wives, parents and children, and same-sex couples—most of whom hail from a younger age group. “For us, the couple theme really works, because we mix the ashes together when putting together the reef, so you really are together for eternity,” Frankle said. He added that, for traditional services there’s the average age of 70 at the time of a pre-planned arrangement, with a rough five-year turnover before they take advantage of those services. The average age of his clientele, however, is 55, with a turnaround of 15 to 25 years before they ever take advantage of the service. “We seem to attract a much younger, much more active, and a much healthier audience,” Frankle said. “It is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.” ∆

WOW

Staff Writer Matt Fountain can be reached at mfountain@newtimesslo.com.

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D

ressed in a fine ivory robe embossed with gold stitching, the deacon turns to the crowd and says in a loud voice, “I now present to you Mr. and Mrs. John Stenger.” The giddy bride and groom turn to their friends and family and prepare to leave the church. As the bride passes the first pew, she grabs a leash connected to an equally giddy, drooling golden retriever. All together, man, wife, and dog stroll up the aisle, the cascading tones of Handel’s “Messiah” emanating overhead from a large, multi-piece organ. “I’ve been told by a couple of people that the look on the deacon’s face was pretty priceless,” Sheila later told me. Full disclosure here: Sheila is a friend of mine from college. We used to work together on the Mustang Daily at Cal Poly. I got to watch John and her tie the knot back in November. Unfortunately, I didn’t catch the look on the deacon’s face; I was too busy watching their bow-tied dog, Rembrandt, lead them up the aisle. “Rembrandt is really important to me,” Sheila said. “He’s always been the No. 1 man in my life.” Rembrandt was the 11th—and final—puppy Sheila and her family trained as a guide dog for the blind and disabled. “He failed out miserably,” Sheila said of Rembrandt’s noble aspirations. So the family adopted him, and when Sheila went away to college, she took the sweet, hairy beast with her. “We’re pretty much attached at the

A NIM ALS

MOR E C OU PL E S A R E I N C LU DI N G PE T S A N D OTHER A N I M A LS I N THEIR W E DDI N G C E L E BR A T IO N S BY A M Y ASM A N

hip,” she said. “In fact, when John first met me, he met Rembrandt the same night.” John and Sheila got engaged after several years of dating. When it finally came time to plan the wedding, Sheila said she wanted to elope. “I didn’t want the whole big wedding thing. I didn’t want to give up a year of my life planning a wedding. But

PETS

continued on page 17

dress up DOGGIE

If you want to dress your beloved pet in something special on your wedding day, check out Tails Boutique at 745 Higuera St. in San Luis Obispo. Store manager Cecilia Fontes said she keeps bowties in stock, but she’s also willing to take custom orders for dresses and other items. For more information, call 544-7387. For more information about Fabulous Weddings, which offers services from Santa Barbara to Cambria and beyond, call Nancy Schulze at 714-8187 or e-mail her at fabulousweddings1@gmail.com.

THE HAPPY TRIO Newlyweds John and Sheila Stenger and their faithful golden retriever, Rembrandt, posed for a family portrait.

PHOTO BY SCOTT STEBNER

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BR I DE S 2 013

PETS

from page 15

John really wanted it, and he kind of convinced me into it because we could have Rembrandt in it,” she said. But getting Rembrandt into the festivities proved to be more difficult than they thought it would be. “When we first started talking to the Catholic church, they said, ‘No, no, no. He can’t be in the wedding,’” she said. So they decided to put Rembrandt, who is a certified therapy dog, in his official therapy vest and have Sheila’s aunt bring him in. “I’m a big animal fan, so I think if your pet is really important to you and is well behaved, more power to you,” she said. “You should have them in the wedding.” John agreed, adding, “I knew having Rembrandt there was pretty much the tradeoff for the big wedding, and I was happy to do that. He’s a great dog. He’s hilarious, and I love him.” Like John and Sheila, more and more couples are starting to include their pets in their weddings. Nancy Schulze, a local wedding planner and co-owner of Fabulous Weddings, said she coordinated several ceremonies at which dogs walked the brides down the aisle. She said it’s also popular to have the ring bearer bring the dog down the aisle with him. At one wedding, the couple’s dog wore a bowtie that once belonged to the bride’s father, who had passed away. “The sister brought the bowtie from Australia and they fixed it up on the dog as a tribute. He was the most well-behaved dog. He just sat there and watched the whole thing,” she recalled. “I have been so blessed because all of the dogs [I’ve worked with] have been so well behaved.” Schulze suggests couples who want to incorporate pets into their weddings should make sure animals are allowed at the venue prior to booking. “A lot of places only allow service dogs, but I’m finding more and more venues are accepting [animals],” she said. “Usually [the venues] just want to make sure someone is there to pick up the mess. So far, she said she’s only worked with couples who wanted to include their dogs, but she also coordinated a wedding in which the couple wanted butterf lies released during the ceremony. “Let’s face it: Our dogs are our

PHOTO BY SCOTT STEBNER

EQUINE BEAUTY Sheila, an avid horseback rider since age 7, wanted to incorporate horses into her wedding. The venue she and her fiancé, John, selected—Flying Cloud Farm in Petaluma—offered a dressage show to be viewed from the reception area.

babies. They’re happiness. When people see them, they can’t help and go, ‘Awww,’” she said. “They’re sweet and beautiful and different, and they keep the children occupied.” In many ways, John and Sheila feel

the same way. “Even when it was looking like Rembrandt was not going to be in the wedding, we were OK with it because we knew he would be part of our marriage,” John said. “We’re going to

have a blast for the next 20, 30, 40, 50 years—however long it is—and for however long we have Rembrandt.” ∆ Contact Sun Managing Editor Amy Asman at aasman@santamariasun.com.

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LEaR nIng fRom othERS’

L O CA L L AW y er A Dv I Se S e nG AGe D C OU pL e S T O OB Serv e DI vOrCe C OU r T Bef Or e T H e y e n D U p T H er e I n e A r n e S T B Y N I C K P OW E L L

B

rides-to-be might not want to hear or read the dreaded “D-word,” but these days divorce is fairly common. Sorry, but it’s true. According to the United States Census Bureau, marriages occurred at a rate of 6.8 per every 1,000 people in 2009, but the divorce rate was 3.4, meaning more than a million marriages ended that year with reams of paper work and the rap of a gavel in a drab and heartless courtroom. Though local divorce attorney Greg Abel earns his living helping unhappy

couples end their relationships, divide their assets, and decide who gets the kids for the holidays, he readily admitted that divorces are seldom pleasant for either party, even when they’re the right courses of action. Ironically, the best way for couples to avoid lengthy battles in the halls of justice, he said, would be for them to spend more time in court. Half joking, he suggested that the state require couples to watch two days of family law disputes before getting their own marriage licenses. Such a stipulation would never become law, he said, but it would be a good idea.

“It’s very easy to be romantic, to fall in love, even to have a baby,” Abel said. “But few people know what they really want when they get married.” While some religious institutions urge couples to attend pre-marriage counseling sessions, San Luis Obispo County asks only that couples come to the clerk’s office with a governmentissued ID and $100. A marriage license can be issued the moment a couple turns in a short form. Divorce, on the other hand, takes a lot longer and costs a lot more. Abel charges $300 an hour and estimated

that his fees are in the middle of the spectrum. It’s impossible to tell at the beginning how long divorce proceedings will last, but many require multiple trips to the courthouse and visits with mediators over the course of several months. When children are involved, custody disputes often continue for years, Abel said. But for many couples, that process is clearly preferable to living in a loveless marriage. “When a client asks what [the divorce] will cost, I tell them I can’t possibly

DIVORCE continued on page 20

Sparkle... down the aisle

info@carolinerocha.com | www.carolinerocha.com We take studio appointments. Also available at Madonna Inn and Le Créme Caroline Rocha, LLC

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DIVORCE from page

19

know,” Abel said. “One thing is certain, though. Whatever it costs, it’s worth it.” Most people can’t take time off of work to watch other people’s divorce proceedings and custody battles, but don’t worry, we did it for you. San Luis Obispo Superior Court holds a family law facilitator workshop every Wednesday morning, and it’s open to the public on a first-come, first-served basis. On Jan. 15, a crowd of sullen folks and squirming children kept three facilitators busy from 9:30 a.m. to noon. They aren’t attorneys and can’t offer advice, but they can guide individuals through the process, meeting with them one-on-one to ensure that the proper forms are filled out and filed in a timely manner. No one waiting to speak with a facilitator wanted to air his or her private troubles with a reporter, but I could sit back and watch. Surprisingly enough, no tears were shed, and no one seemed distraught while going through the motions of bidding farewell to relationships that should have been filled with love forever. Some looked frustrated, others empty, and everyone appeared to

DISCARDED DESIRE Divorce forms manage to transform an entire relationship, with all its passions and dreams, into a few pages of facts ready for the trashcan.

DIVORCE continued on page 21

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DIVORCE from page 20

be bored beyond belief. The same could be said of the courtroom scenes downstairs. There, attorneys spoke in technicalities while their clients stared stone-faced at the judge. New Times never observed any impassioned pleas for reconciliation or any couples hurling insults at one another, even as two parents agreed to meet at the Atascadero police station several times a week in order to avoid confrontation whenever they exchange custody of their son. Another couple had been mired in divorce proceedings since June 2011 but couldn’t reach a custody agreement or come to terms on asset division. Tired of explaining why he’s still married, the husband filed a motion for dissolution of status while their other issues were ironed out. The next couple to stand before the judge had been together just two months before “irreconcilable differences” tore them apart. Five months later, they’re still seeing each other regularly, but only in court. More than anything else, a day spent observing family law proceedings revealed one thing: Divorce is horrible. The passion

f lares out long before couples find themselves in court, and the result is a dry, empty affair. Break-ups are always hard, but only after marriage vows do paperwork, attorneys, and judges have to get involved. Susan BaileyKadin, a licensed marriage and family therapist, said “scared straight” tactics like a day in court probably won’t have much effect on enamored couples. “When people fall in love, it’s not realistic to look at worst-case scenarios,” she said. “Their wits aren’t about them in the love stage. Human nature and hormones mediate against a lot of planning.” Discussion, however, can do wonders. BaileyKadin said couples ought to consider pre-marital counseling before they tie the knot. In order to keep a marriage strong, couples should clearly communicate a set of expectations for their relationship. “It’s going to be an evolving subject that will change over a long-term marriage,” she said. “Common dreams create a shared cause, something to fight for as a team.” ∆

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in love PHOTOS BY STEV E E. MILLER A RT DIR EC T ION BY A S H L E Y S C H W E L L E N B AC H H A IR A N D M A K E-U P B Y JENNIFER M ARIE HIX AND JESSI CA MPBELL

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n keeping with our Brides theme of embracing both the hardships and triumphs of marriage, we chose for our engagementphoto shoots two desperately in love couples who have discovered creative means of overcoming their unique obstacles. In both cases, physical distance is one of those hazards. For one of the couples, not being able to publicly celebrate their relationship was a rather brutal hardship. We made the difficult decision to disregard our own rules (requiring couples to be, well, engaged) and feature an alreadymarried couple who never had the opportunity to take engagement photos. Because all couples—whatever their unique circumstances—deserve the opportunity to express themselves and their love for each other. ∆ Managing Editor Ashley Schwellenbach can be reached at aschwellenbach@ newtimesslo.com.

“SIncE W E aR E SO BuSy W hEn hE IS hOmE EnjOy Ing

OuR BOyS anD WaTchIng

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ENGAGEMENT from page 27

“IVAN AND I MET ON THE FIRST DAY OF THE SEMESTER AT CUESTA IN JANUARY OF 2008. I HAD BROKEN MY LEG THE NIGHT BEFORE SKATEBOARDING ON A HALFPIPE. IT WAS POURING RAIN AND I WAS ON CRUTCHES. HE TEASED ME ABOUT LINE-DANCING. WE BECAME FRIENDS. ON OUR ROAD TRIP MONTHS LATER HE SAID ‘I LOVE YOU’ FOR THE FIRST TIME IN FRONT OF THE GRAND CANYON. MORE THAN ONE ROAD TRIP LATER, AND A CHRISTMAS SPENT SNOWED-IN IN NEVADA WITH MINERS AND THEIR FAMILIES, WE WERE ENGAGED.”

ENGAGEMENT continued on page 30 2 9R I B I D2E0S1 2 B DR ES 3 0 21 93


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ENGAGEMENT from page 29

“BY JANUARY OF 2009, IVAN HAD STARTED THE POLICE ACADEMY IN SAN JOSE. OUR WEDDING WAS SCHEDULED FOR MARCH 28 (HALFWAY THROUGH THE ACADEMY, AND A WEEK AFTER FINALS AT CAL POLY, WHERE I WAS NOW ATTENDING). HE WAS ABLE TO COME TO ARROYO GRANDE ON FRIDAY BEFORE THE WEDDING ON SATURDAY, AND BY SUNDAY WE WERE BACK IN SAN JOSE. NOT KNOWING UNTIL A FEW WEEKS LATER THAT WE CONCEIVED ON OUR WEDDING NIGHT, CAMPED OUT IN HUASNA.” ENGAGEMENT continued on page 32 3 0 BRIDES 2 01 3


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ENGAGEMENT continued on page 35


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“LIFE IS A WONDERFUL ADVENTURE WITH PETTY CHIEF OFFICER KIM KEATING AND OUR KIDS, AND JUST KEEPS GETTING SWEETER!”

ENGAGEMENT from page 32

“I MET KIM ON AN ONLINE DATING SITE BACK IN MAY OF 2009. AT THE TIME, I WAS HEAVILY INVOLVED WITH A LOCAL RADICAL PEACE GROUP, AS AN ACTIVIST AND GENERAL RABBLE ROUSER. I WAS CAPTURED BY DATING PROFILES THAT WERE MORE UNUSUAL, OR HAD PERSONALITY TO THEM. IT WAS WHEN SHE REFERENCED ’80S MUSIC AND GOONIES, I SORT OF GEEKED OUT A LITTLE. LITTLE DID I KNOW, AS WE STARTED DELVING FURTHER AND FURTHER INTO CHATS AND INTERESTS AND BACKGROUNDS, THAT SHE WORKED FOR BIG BROTHER (AND NOT THE “HOLDING COMPANY” KIND). KIM WAS IN THE NAVY, AND MAKING IT A CAREER. UP UNTIL THEN, DON’T ASK, DON’T TELL WAS ONLY PERIPHERALLY ON MY RADAR AND NOT SEEN AS AN AREA THAT WOULD AFFECT ME. I WASN’T GOING TO FALL FOR ANYONE IN THE MILITARY, I TOLD MYSELF. AND HOW QUICKLY THE UNIVERSE HAS HUMBLED ME!!!!” ENGAGEMENT continued on page 36

PHOTO ILLUSTR ATION BY STEVE E. MILLER

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ENGAGEMENT from page 35

“THREE YEARS (TWO YEARS UNDER DON’T ASK, DON’T TELL), THREE DEPLOYMENTS, MULTIPLE TIME ZONE JUGGLING, WE HAVE BEEN TOGETHER THROUGH THICK AND THIN. DUE TO THE JOY OF DOMA, MY KIDS AND I ARE NOT ALLOWED TO BE COMMAND SPONSORED OVERSEAS WITH KIM. SHE HAS SPENT THE PAST YEAR IN KOREA AND IS DUE HOME IN LATE NOVEMBER. WE HAVE BEEN ENGAGED FOR OVER TWO YEARS, AND ARE DUE TO BE MARRIED (REGARDLESS OF WHAT THEY ARE CALLING OUR STATUS IN CALIFORNIA OR THE UNITED STATES) JULY 20, 2013.” “THE PROPOSAL WAS ON SUNSET BEACH IN FEBRUARY 2010, HONOLULU, WHILE SHE WAS STATIONED IN PEARL HARBOR. AT THE TIME, WE COULDN’T ANNOUNCE IT OUT LOUD, EXCEPT TO OUR FAMILY MEMBERS AND VERY CLOSE FRIENDS. THE REPEAL OF DON’T ASK, DON’T TELL HAS BEEN A HUGE RELIEF OFF OUR SHOULDERS IN THAT AREA!” ENGAGEMENT continued on page 38 B RR II D DE E SS 22 00 11 33 33 66 B


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“WHILE I HAVE GROWN TO APPRECIATE AND ADMIRE A LOT OF THE DEDICATION AND LOYALTY SHE SHOWS TO SERVING OUR COUNTRY AND TO THE NAVY, WE APPRECIATE OUR OWN UNIQUE ADVENTURES IN LIFE.”

ENGAGEMENT from page 36

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smoothen BR I DE S 2 013

How to

tHE mov E-In

T I P S f oR n e W lY-W e d hou SI nG B Y A N A KO R G A N

“I

know we’re going to have a problem with the bathroom,” Serena Kunic-Gurley said. “She’s got, like, 800 bottles of stuff,” Ted Swan, Serena’s fiancé, sighed. Regardless of whether you’re shacking up before the engagement or after the wedding, moving in with your love is a huge step. It signifies “the next level” and shows the world that you’re serious about each other. Yes, it’s exciting and romantic, but it can also be stressful. There’s a darker

side to human nature, and while you and your significant other may share hobbies, political views, tastes in music, and career aspirations, different opinions about seemingly insignificant day-to-day aspects of life—like sharing that tiny little shelf in the shower—can create an unsettling rift that seethes and seeps into that magical bliss that connected you together in the first place. We in the New Times basement want you and yours to have a happilyever-after—all princess-style—so we’ve been toiling for weeks to bring

Love and Marriage —

goes t ogether like a Horse and Carriage

you some brilliant tips on how to make your marriage magical. This episode: living together. Serena and Ted will be wed in April, at Serena’s mom’s ranch in Paso Robles. The couple is excited about the coming months; in addition to wedding preparation—gussying up the ranch and making wedding invitations by hand on an antique printing press that belonged to Serena’s grandmother—Serena is also finishing up her final quarter at Cal Poly as an animal sciences major. After the wedding and the honeymoon, the

couple will relocate. Where to, they have no idea yet; it all hinges on where Serena is accepted to vet school (she wants to be a chicken vet, like for large-scale poultry operations); all of her applications were sent out-of-state, including one to the Cayman Islands. So wherever Serena is accepted, Ted will follow—hopefully along with their dogs and horses—and the two will find a place to call home. When pressed with questions about how they would decide on what type

THE MOVE-IN continued on page 41

From the Vineyards to the Ocean...

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BR I DE S 2 013

THE MOVE-IN

from page 40

of house they want to move into, whether they would take anything other than clothing when they moved, and how they’d establish who’d do what chores, Ted and Serena said they’ll just have to see what happens. So many things are unknown right now, so they’re trying not to get excited about “maybes.” Cathy Brody, M.S., a local marriage and family therapist, had this relationship pearl of wisdom to share about couples living together: “When people are thinking of moving in together, it’s because they’re in love. And when we’re in love, we aren’t thinking clearly.” Sometimes our perceptions are more lustful than love-filled, and we jump to conclusions or into situations that are, long-term, not what we ultimately want. Brody—who co-authored the book Renew Your Marriage at Midlife with her husband Steve Brody, Ph.D.—was gracious enough to share three tenets couples should be sure their relationship contains before moving in together: 1. Have clear expectations. Why are you moving in together? Is it a trial period to see how things work

out? Is it for financial or schedulerelated convenience? Are you engaged and see moving in as simply the “next step?” Each person should know what he or she has to offer and is looking for in return. Share your expectations and make sure you are both looking for the same or, at least, compatible things. 2. Establish strong communication skills and problem-solving tactics. A healthy relationship is one where each party can express opinions, emotions, and morals openly, without fear of retribution. It’s important to have the ability to not only articulate clearly, honestly, and directly, but also to listen openly. These skills are especially important if there are major personality differences between two people, or if both people are overly accommodating or authoritative. 3. Move into a neutral territory. Moving into a new home (not his or hers) adds an element of commitment to the “togetherness.” When you move into a new space, you have the opportunity to strengthen the relationship through decision making (How to organize kitchen cupboards? Shoes on, or off, in the house?

Open-door bathroom policy?). It’s an opportunity to start fresh, with both people on the same page and equally represented. Also, before moving in with a significant other, Brody encourages people to live “on their own.” That doesn’t necessarily mean living by oneself, without a roommate; it means living away from the childhood home, and learning how to manage oneself. This establishes confidence and really shapes how someone looks at themselves. Ted (31) and Serena (25) have never lived together. In fact, Serena has never lived away from home. It was always something she wanted to do: embark out into the world as a free and fun-loving 20-something single girl. But it just never happened. She recognizes that moving out is considered an integral part of youngadulthood, but she isn’t letting it falter her expectations or her attitude about her relationship with Ted. She explained that not moving in together until after the wedding feels more sacred to her, more stable, more “together forever.” And she’s not worried about Ted having some

closeted, annoying habits. “If he was perfect, it would be really boring,” she said, patting his hand. “It’s the little hiccups that make it more fun.” For people like Serena, Brody urges at least some aspect of independence. Be financially independent, at least, she says. Be able to pay rent, bills, etc., and if you can, move out for a little while, even a month or two. It affords a sense self and autonomy that’s irreplaceable. Ultimately, Brody suggests premarital counseling for all couples, to help determine and confirm the dynamics and expectations of the relationship; something most successfully achieved with the help of a knowledgeable, thirdparty perspective. However, she isn’t shy about acknowledging that she and her now-husband moved in together six weeks after they met, and that they’ve been married for more than 30 years. There’s no patented way to manage a relationship, or the all-important move-in. ∆ Contributing writer Ana Korgan is single, and tried online dating for a week. Don’t send date requests to akorgan@ newtimesslo.com.

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F

or a day you spend months preparing and planning for, specifics of your wedding day can sometimes be the most difficult to remember. Wedding Day Amnesia can affect even the most prepared couple. Wedding Day Amnesia can manifest itself in many forms, including forgetting meeting certain guests, the taste of your food, and mistakes that happened during the event. The day seems to almost run in fast forward as the ceremony and reception speed past, and eventually it all ends and you’re not quite sure exactly what just happened. Long-term memories may fail to register due to a number of causes, the most common of which are large guest lists nearing 200, not having a wedding planner and therefore having to make lastminute decisions, and the stress of family members not getting along.

A DAy to R EmEmBER oR

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These distractions tend to redirect your focus and prevent you from remembering specifics. During my wedding, I met dozens of people I had never seen before—a consequence of having a rural wedding where the entire valley was invited. A woman I didn’t recognize stopped by my place of work later, and she called me out for my blanking on her identity. She was offended I didn’t remember who she was, but could she really blame me? I didn’t even

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remember holding a family friend’s newborn child. There are ways to combat forgetting people who attended your wedding, besides having a smaller guest list. One of the most creative methods I’ve witnessed was setting up a photo booth that prints out two copies of the photos taken. The guest keeps one set, but glues the second set next to his or her name in the guest registry. When

AMNESIA continued on page 44

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AMNESIA from page

43

the couple looks back at the list, they have a visual representation of who attended their wedding day. Some people may remember that the cake looked amazing, but forget exactly what it tasted like—which is a pretty big deal considering the fact that wedding cakes can cost a lot of money. Imagine spending $500 at a restaurant for a steak and not remembering the f lavor or if it was even cooked the way you ordered. Before the big day, try to communicate with someone that you want some leftovers to enjoy later on. Some venues and caterers don’t allow you to keep the leftover food, so make sure you let them know your wishes before signing a contract. Nothing tastes better than wedding-day cake for breakfast the following morning, so make sure to keep more than just the traditional slice that couples get to eat a year later.

AMNESIA continued on page 46

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BR I DE S 2 013

AMNESIA from page 44 One of the benefits of wedding day amnesia is that you tend to not know or care about any f laws that happen during the event. I think the biggest mistake I actually remember—and only because a guest told me about it later on—was that the vegetarian dish didn’t include the Portobello mushrooms we bought. Small mistakes are what make wedding days special, so it’s important to talk to some of your guests about what exactly happened during the day. Hiring a photographer with a portfolio that you enjoy is probably the most important purchase when it comes to your wedding. Traditional photographers capture the event you intend to have. You may want a photographer who captures the wedding that actually happened. This isn’t to say the photographer should be taking a picture of the wedding cake

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falling apart under the 100-degree heat, but maybe you want a photo of the groom turning beet red as he removes the garter from his new bride. Another great tactic is to put cameras at different tables or bring friends in to take photos alongside your photographer. Some photographers don’t allow other cameras, so make sure your photographer knows your wishes before signing a contract. Review your wedding photos often, and go through them with relatives and friends who attended the event. They may be able to share more stories about the photos than you remembered. With these tips, I hope your wedding day is one you’ll remember and cherish forever—or at least that you’ll remember what your cake tasted like. ∆ Intern Aleksandr Hewitt can be reached via Managing Editor Ashley Schwellenbach at aschwellenbach@ newtimesslo.com.

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