I love weddings -- in fact, I’ve actually become something of a wedding crasher. In the past three years I’ve attended maybe ten weddings. I was in the bridal party for three of them, two were destination weddings and one was on a boat. But in all of my wedding crashing, the reception of my dear friends Roderick Scott and Madia Hill was unlike anything I’ve ever seen.
Roderick, a publicist for Warner Bros. Records, and Madia, a powerhouse actress, producer and writer, are two creative forces who have always marched to their own beat. And when they planned their nuptials, it was no different. The adventure-seeking couple, who have been together for eight years, decided to elope to the southeast coast of Mexico. After a local send off with friends and family here in LA, they traveled to the tiny little city of Campeche, Mexico, with only a photographer and a videographer as their wedding guests.
Photo: Georgina Carlos - With Love ~ Photos by Georgie
A World Heritage site, the city of Campeche is rich in color and history. Originally settled by the Mayans, the couple was drawn to Campeche because they wanted to see the lush jungles and the Mayan ruins. Roderick and Madia’s ceremony was officiated by a shaman, who blew a huge sea shell to the four corners of the earth to announce their union (so romantic!). The bride wore a breathtakingly beautiful, handmade gown that sparkled white and bright against the backdrop of the jungle. They wrote their own vows ahead of the ceremony and recited them to each other as the sun set. After a short stay in Campeche the couple honeymooned in Maroma Beach - 30 minutes south of Cancun.
Photo: Georgina Carlos - With Love From Georgie
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A few months after their elopement, Rod and Madia hosted a reception at the art gallery Studio 11 for 300 of their closest friends and family -- myself included. Upon arrival, guests were treated to a glimpse of their wedding adventure with a gallery of photographs from their trip. Loved ones oohed and awed over the captivating images. Moving through the huge, open space, it immediately felt like a reunion of all the couple’s friends. We criss crossed the room giving hugs and taking a peek at the two outdoor gardens, lit only by twinkling lights.
Photo: Georgina Carlos - With Love From Georgie
After a bit of mingling, the reception program began. The bride and groom arrived and a loud cheer went up. MC’ed by an aunt from each side of the family, the program included passionate and heartfelt performances by Smoke Season, Andra Day and Melody Thornton. Smoke Season sang an original song, “Opaque,” Adura Day sang a medley which concluded with “Rise” and Melody Thornton sang the Donny Hathaway classic, “A Song For You.” After the performances we were all primed for the next thing on the program, a special video which captured their romantic trip for all to see. Hauntingly beautiful, the video took us along for this crazy, sexy, cool love affair between two of our favorite people. I'm sure there wasn’t a dry eye in the room when it was over.
The evening continued with all the jams -- and the obligatory wedding classics -- being played by one of LA’s hottest DJ’s, DJ Ron. Guests were able to take photos in the photo booth, eat their choice of h'orderves or tacos from a quaint little taco cart, and drink from the open bar. Sure it was a party, but there were also some touching moments like when members of the bride and grooms family danced together to “Uptown Funk” (So cute!), or when the bride changed clothes and performed a sexy Samba dance for her new hubby accompanied by her team of backup dancers. I loved the open and inviting space of the venue. I liked how there was so much to see and do as guests we weren’t contained to assigned seats like most weddings.I also loved how Rod and Madia made their love and talent shine through all evening long -- Roderick works with both Audra and Melody and Madia produced their wedding video and choreographed both dances. All and all it was a night those in attendance will ever forget.
This is for all the women out there that want it all (myself included): a thriving career, close friends and a fulfilling relationship with a “special someone.” But what’s the problem when you have everything at your feet and the “world is your oyster?” There are simply not enough hours in the day to enjoy and dedicate yourself to everything.
I was inspired to write this piece based on my own personal struggles to have it all. A few years ago, after just moving to LA, I had a few pieces of the puzzle: a promising relationship and a brand-new masters degree from USC—but I didn’t have many close friends and I was just on my way to building a career path.
Fast forward a few years later, and today, I have everything in spades. That promising relationship turned into a marriage, budding friendships turned into close friends and my career became more focused with every step. Granted, I am still working out the ins and outs of how to have (and enjoy) it all, but here are a few tips that have helped me and my marriage along the way.
One of the most important pieces of my life is my relationship with my husband. He is one of my biggest supporters when things are great (and when things go south in other parts of my life). Balancing a demanding career and a relationship (or marriage in my case) means open communication. We frequently discuss what’s happening at work and our goals. I know where he’s headed at work with both his short and long term plans for himself and he knows the same about me. We tell each other what’s going on and during periods of high work volume or unique opportunities, (like a networking event) we allow each other time to take advantage. Frequent communication and discussions make us a team in both home and career.
Juggling so many activities, events and dates is difficult, but making and keeping a clear calendar is key. I have a work calendar of course, but a home calendar is just as important. This way, both of us know when we have a dinner, late meeting or other event without getting flustered at the last minute over a forgotten commitment. A calendar is also a great way to keep track of your goals and check up on progress. If things are super hectic, (especially if you have kids too) you can use Google’s calendar which you can share with your honey.
I am a big list maker. I love them! Grocery lists, shopping lists, travel lists, to-do lists, it’s part of my process and organization. Make a list of your projects, pending items, goals and specific tasks. Organize them by priority level and due dates. Include items that mean extra time at the office. If you know that you have to put in extra work time one weekend for instance, you might need to schedule your grocery shopping during the week to be able to spend your remaining free time with your partner. Making a list also helps you keep things in perspective and be realistic about your time commitments.
If I didn’t force myself to “unplug” from work, I would end up working 24/7. After spending too many anxiety-ridden weekends worrying about work, I have learned that you have to disconnect and take a breather. My husband and I have a rule not to check work emails past a certain time at night (or even if I slip up and do, I make a point of not responding until the next work day). Get into the habit of sticking to your “work hours,” whatever those might be and really allowing yourself to enjoy something else.
Be it a nice dinner or a day a beach, set dedicated time to appreciate your significant other and make sure that you are only going to be doing that one thing during this precious time. At dinner, don’t check work emails, and at the beach, logout of Facebook. Enjoy what’s in front of you and make the most of moments designated for family, friends and loved ones.
As a counterpart to dedicated time, I also like to align my goals with those of family and friends. Chances are, your partner (and maybe even your friends) want to be involved in all the cool things you’re doing. Invite them to a networking event or include your partner in your passion projects.
As more things are added to your to-do list, and as commitments grow, it’s also important to know that no one is perfect and everything might not get done each week. There are plenty of weeks where my to-do list is neglected in favor of a movie night on the couch—and that is OK. Allow yourself to make mistakes, learn what works best for you and your boo and where your priorities are. But most of all, invest in things that make you happy. After all, living a fulfilling life is the end goal. Learn how you can get there by experimenting and trying different things.
What are you doing to balance your home and work life? Leave us a comment or tweet us @MadeWomanMag!
There are less than three months until my wedding and I just found my dress and I still have not sent out save the dates, or wedding invitations. Like many brides, I have become overwhelmed in the swirl of dress shopping, fine tuning the guest list, selecting a caterer and finding a D.J. (This is a truncated list, of course.) When I feel inadequate to make decisions on flowers, color schemes and cake decorations, I find confidence in knowing that I’m at least taking the right steps to ensure that Mathias (my fiancé) and I will still have a healthy relationship after the wedding.
So, while I envy the women who seem to be the perfect wedding planners, I’ve tasked myself with being a diligent marriage planner. I won’t attempt to offer expert relationship advice, or claim to know the keys to having a perfect anything, let alone a perfect marriage. However, I do know that being successful at anything requires a plan. Here are the tactics I’m using to make sure that Mathias and I get a healthy start to our marriage.
When Mathias and I got engaged our first priority was mapping out our lives together. Questions like, which city will we settle down in? How many children will we have? Should I go to graduate school? All came up as we focused on planning our future. A good place to start with this planning process is goal setting. Everything starts to come together when you ask yourself what you really want and work toward that. For example, if what you really want is to be a stay at home mom in five years, then that might impact your decision to pay for graduate school right now.
The time to start planning your financial future with your partner is now. Both parties need to lay out what they bring to the table in terms of assets and debt. Just like life planning, it’s important to set goals. Are you the couple who wants to go on a big vacation every year, or is your biggest priority saving for a down payment on a house? Is eliminating student loan debt or investing one of your goals? Determine where you want to be financially and it will become easier to create a plan on how to get there together.
I like to think of pre-marital counseling as preventative maintenance for your relationship. You can pinpoint trouble areas that currently exist, develop a strategy for dealing with future pitfalls and cultivate deeper intimacy with your partner. There are several options for counseling, so explore what works for you. It could be seeking advice from an older couple who you respect, group sessions with a religious guidance counselor, or private sessions with a professional counselor. Mathias and I are currently taking six sessions with a professional counselor who is helping us prepare for the three issues that cause the most conflict in marriage: sex, money and in-laws.
Learning how to fight fair, financial planning and deciding whose family to spend Christmas with may not seem romantic. However, these things are essential to having a healthy relationship. The details of wedding planning are important and I'll get the invitations out, hire the caterer and try to remember to smile and breathe through the ceremony. More important than the wedding is what will happen after we say “I do,” cut the cake and ride off into the sunset. I’m looking forward to enjoying the rest of my life committed to Mathias and happy to know that we’ve got a plan.
Thirty. The big 3-0. Dirty 30. What exactly is it about this number that makes it synonymous the word “married” when mentioned in relation to a woman’s age? Who decided that the minute a girl is no longer a twenty-something, she must be, better be, should be married? It’s as if a secret memo was sent out to everyone in America stating:
Since most women are no longer getting married in their early 20’s, we’ve decided to increase the female marriage ceiling to age 30. Please make this information known throughout the land—from advertisements and word-of-mouth marketing to incessant Facebook posts from happy newlyweds—we need all ladies under 30 to be aware of this expectation so they can find Mr. Right prior to leaving their 20’s. So, if you happen to know a girl who is 27-29 years old, do pressure them to think about getting hitched for life ASAP.
The Powers that Be (Creators of social norms and customs that are rarely updated to reflect changes and growth within society. While some of these “rules” might not feel right or make sense, just go with the flow until otherwise notified.)
I live in LA, a city where both men and woman tend to marry a bit later in life, and yet I still spent the last years of my 20‘s feeling that somehow, I’d messed up. I had followed the wrong trail and thus, my “important-life-moments” timeline was off. It began slowly at first, when I was 27 ... an engagement post on Facebook, an invite to a wedding—it was happening. People I knew were beginning the next stage of life and saying “I do.”
For a minute, I too was part of the engaged-before-30-crowd. Nearing 28, I pushed the issue of marriage with my then-boyfriend of two years and he gave in, asked my parents for my hand and ... we waited. A year later when no date had been set and more importantly, I’d realized he was not my Mr. Forever, we broke up. Now, at 31, I look back and realize that while I was heartbroken, I was equally distraught thinking that I had just lost my chance to get married before I was 30.
But my 31-year-old self, still unmarried, knows something that my 27-year-old self did not. I am worth waiting for. My genuine happiness is worth waiting for. As fabulous MADE women, we deserve to get married when, and only when, we find the man who makes us glow from the inside and fits the detailed description of what we want in a life partner ... and then some. I’ve seen too many friends settle for Mr. Right-Before-30 and frankly, they are either not that happy, or worse—divorced.
Today, I believe I have found my Mr. Forever. We’ve been together for three years and because I am over 30 the pressure to get married is SUPER intense—my parents, my friends, my Facebook page now booming with babies and the little voice in my head asking, “When will it be my turn?” And let’s face it ladies—if we want to have babies, there is a real timeline—but, that should not change the fact that your dream life will never become your real life if you settle. So to the twenty-somethings who are panicking because there is no ring on the horizon and to the thirty-somethings who have yet to walk down the aisle, remember this:
1. MARRY BECAUSE YOU BOTH WANT TO - not because you’re about to be 30 and you force an ultimatum. Come on. We’ve all been there, girls! A nudge is fine, a subtle hint, sure. BUT DON’T BE THAT GIRL. If he doesn’t want to marry you, you DESERVE TO FIND A MAN WHO DOES.
2. MARRY WHEN YOU FIND MR. FOREVER - not because you’re turning 30 next year.
3. NEVER SETTLE FOR LESS THAN YOU WANT - in love, in work, in health, in life.
When you finally say “I do,” if you ever do, there is a good chance that you’ll only say it once. And you’ll be saying it to the right person, not just the person you found right before you turned 30.
Fortunately for Made Women, marriage today is a joyful choice we make instead of a societal tradition that is expected of us. With this choice comes the question, “How will I know if I’m ready to get married?” Only you will truly know if you are ready, but here are a few signs that may help you understand whether or not to-have-and-to-hold is the right step for you.
(Much credit to my supportive husband who brainstormed with me about how we knew we were ready to get married!)
1. You know what works for you and what doesn’t. The dating journey is the time to learn what you desire in relationships; what makes you swoon and what makes you crazy. When you realize what your deal breakers are and what you cannot live without, you’ve taken a huge step toward knowing what you want in a lifetime partner.
2. You’re ready to share your experiences. At this point in life, you’ve likely written a bucket list or two. When you begin to think those experiences would be even more special if you had someone to share them with, you may be ready for that “forever” step. Whether it’s a new puppy, a European adventure or taking on a new hobby, matrimony may be the right choice if you’re longing to share life with someone else.
3. You’ve lived your young, free and single years to their fullest. Have you had enough wild girls’ nights out, dancing till dawn and shamelessly flirting to get you free drinks at the bar? Have you been truly single and satisfied and pursued your greatest ambitions? If so, you can move toward wedded bliss knowing you lived it up during your single life.
4. You stand on your own two feet. You are confident in your own success and you’re comfortable doing things on your own. Maybe you moved cross country or traveled the world or lived by yourself, and you know that you don’t need a man. When you do find someone who complements that strong sense of self and supports your ambition, he’s likely the right type of guy for the long run.
5. You stop expecting perfection. We all need standards, and we should not settle for anything less. But to make it down the aisle successfully, it’s important to understand that everyone has their own history, experiences and flaws. If you are ready to love someone, flaws and all, you may be ready to say “I do.”
6. Doubt doesn’t creep in. Instead of analyzing every conversation, you are completely secure with where your relationship stands. There aren’t any “what are we?” questions. Though the phrase has been said a million times, it’s true: When you’re with the right person, you’ll know.
7. You don’t try to justify your relationship. We’ve all had those relationships that other people just couldn’t understand … or so we thought. The type that usually makes you defensive when those close to you express their concern. When you’re in a healthy relationship, your family and friends will most likely be the first to see that it brings out the best in you, and they will be nothing but happy for you.
There is a lot more to being ready for marriage than these tips, but these are some of the ways I knew that I was ready to marry my husband.
When do you think a Made Woman is ready for wedding bells? Share your signs and tips in the comments section!