authentic love

#wedwellbrides: Willa from @viathevan

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I'm sure you've already heard all about vanlife through the popularity it's gained on instagram and the intriguing New Yorker article, but have you ever been curious of how couples actually do it? I mean, what is it really like living together in that tiny space? I (Lilia) and am all for the trend and Olivia is not so sure!

We got to chat with Willa, one half of the instagram @viathevan where she and her husband moved into vanlife one year after getting married. Read below for all things marriage and #vanlife related...who knows, maybe you'll be inspired and try van life out for yourself! xx

What was the hardest part of planning your wedding?

Knowing whether we were making the very best decision. You don’t think you’ll be the couple that frets over whether your dinner napkins should be ivory or off-white but once things really start to come together, you don’t want anything to be out of place. People are always saying that guests won’t notice those little missteps but truthfully, it’s not about what your friends and family do or don’t notice, it’s about knowing you and your partner created something magical, something as close to whatever you deem ‘perfect’ as humanly possible.

What was it like doing vanlife after getting married? 

It was like getting thrown into the marital gauntlet. We were married for exactly one year before moving into the van- our first night in the van was the day after our anniversary- and while we had spent a lot of time together over the course of our first seven years, van life was something new entirely. Luke and I share the same moral compass, spiritual beliefs and life goals but as far as the day-to-day, we’re opposites. We quickly found that in order to live happily together in such a tiny space, we had to make sure we weren’t compromising on our desires. We would often take turns picking the day’s activity or would take quick jaunts on our own. In the end, we fought a lot (typical) but became better communicators and learned what each of us needs to be our best partner selves.

What was the best part of being engaged?

Telling our engagement story! Luke was so proud of the ring he snagged me and the location of our proposal that both of us just lit up when someone asked about how it happened. Montana has become our favorite state as a couple and jump at any opportunity to return.

What shifted for you since getting married?

Honestly not too much. I think the first year we were both just so high on life. All we wanted to do was scurry home and snuggle. We were living in the same apartment as we always had been but now it felt even more like home- there was a family inside that had so much potential for growth and change. Not that it wasn’t there before but we’d talked about getting married since year 1 so it was wild to realize that big life checkbox had been accomplished.

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What would you tell other brides-to-be right now?

Ooph, such a tricky question! You start to get advice from so many angles that sometimes your eyes begin to glaze over #guilty. If I could travel back in time and tell my earlier planning self one tip it would be this, listen to your little gut, don’t settle, find exactly what you’re looking for because it’s out there and you’ll be so so incredibly happy that you did. I spent every one of the 365 days of planning looking for very specific pieces; flatware, florals, garlands, runners etc and the entire time I kept asking myself if it was going to be worth it. For me the answer was yes. All the time I dedicated to eBay that I will never get back made sitting next to my husband, smiling at not only all of our friends and family but out at the party I put together, that much greater! So maybe more universal, find out that thing that’s really really important to you and don’t give up on making it a reality. You got this.

What was the biggest surprise you had while planning your wedding?

How many people accepted our invitation! You go into your numbers with the assumption anywhere between 15-30% will decline but I think we had just a handful of people who weren’t able to make it. Our venue was sent down from wedding gods and didn’t have a cap so it was definitely the more the merrier!

How have your perceptions on marriage shifted since being married?

Will Smith was quoted recently talking about marriage in a way we don’t often hear but we feel is an important part of finding your life partner,  “[Jada’s] happiness was her responsibility and my happiness was my responsibility and we decided that we were going to find our individual internal, private joy and then we were going to present ourselves to the relationship and to each other, already happy. Not coming to each other, begging with our empty cups demanding that she fill my cup and demanding that she meet my needs. It’s unfair and it’s kind of unrealistic and can be destructive to place the responsibility for your happiness on anybody other than yourself.” We dig that. Less pressure on your partner to complete you but rather to accompany you down life’s path. We’re two different people who decided to link up, and essentially come to all future decisions as a unit- something inherently difficult to accomplish. We’re going into our third year knowing that everyday we choose one another and this life we’ve created.

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#wedwellbrides: Lilia

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Since our very own Lilia Karimi, wedwell co-founder is getting married July 14th (so soon!) we were so excited to feature her in our #wedwell brides series. Lilia and her fiance Quinn, have been #relationshipgoals since day 1, and Lilia gives a refreshingly authentic overview of what wedding planning looks like in a balanced, ambitious relationship. 

What has planning your wedding been like?

I had no idea what to expect from wedding planning (I’ve only been to a handful of weddings myself and am the first out of my sibling/cousins to get married). After a few weeks of the blissful engagement began the less pleasant part of figuring out how to plan a wedding. It was hard to navigate where I fit in. Everyone makes it seem like the wedding is all about the bride, so I was super shocked when my parents had a million opinions on everything (as did my fiance!).

What's the biggest difference you've seen in your relationship since being engaged?

There’s this new feeling of doing things together as a “family unit”. Before when I made decisions, I really only had to think about myself. Move to Mexico? Sure. Live somewhere with ten other people? No prob.

A few months after we got engaged, I decided to leave my full time job to pursue a startup (oh hey, @wed.well). Before, I would’ve jumped to do this without consulting anyone super seriously. After being engaged, it became more of a conversation, like, “are WE going to do this?”

This trickles down into financial decisions as well, where there is less you vs me - and more, what purchases do we want to make together? How could we be spending differently?

At what point in your relationship did you know you wanted to marry that person?

I knew he was my soulmate before we even started dating. I remember telling my mom, “I’m not sure if I should date him. He’s the type of guy I want to marry - so if I date him now, I’ll never date anyone else!!”. That thought was so terrifying at the time - my college self looked down on the version of just dating one person (lol).

What parts of wedding planning have you and your partner disagreed?

One time I was upset with my family about something related to the wedding. I didn’t want my fiance to know about the issues because I didn’t want him to also get stressed about the wedding, so I didn’t tell him. He only found out when I couldn’t contain my emotions and had a major breakdown at home. This brought up the conversation of how we need to approach difficult things together - not individually. Especially important as we get married and start making “family” decisions.

What's been the most confusing part of getting engaged?

Getting engaged was confusing for me because it felt like I didn’t do anything differently with my life, but everyone started congratulating me and getting so excited as if I had done something so incredible! Haha!

In my head, we’ve been in love for five years now - so what is it about weddings and actually getting engaged that makes everyone want to celebrate? Like helllloooo, we should be celebrating love ALL the time - not just when we commit legally! However, I LOVE any opportunity to celebrate so it was equally thrilling.



#wedwellbrides: Jill

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Today we're chatting with Jill Matthews - the blogger babe behind @suttonandgrove and @jillmatthews! I was first drawn to Jill's page because of her focus on conscious fashion. I love eco-friendly clothes, but never know what brands to shop! Then after finding her page, I became even more interested when I saw her and her husband, @lukematthews have a blog together called Sutton and Grove. Husband-wife duos are always so impressive...I mean, how many couples could really blog together? They showcase such a beautiful way of living, so I was thrilled when we got to chat about her own wedding experience! 


What was the hardest part of planning your wedding?

I did my weddings as cost effective as possible, so that meant a lot of DIY. We spent quite a bit of time researching and creating alternative decoration ideas, venue options and catering. We ended up having a beautiful outdoor wedding and reception with a friend who made all our food from scratch but it definitely was hard putting all the pieces together. 

What was the best part of being engaged?

Engagement was fun mainly because it meant we could start planning our wedding. We were only engaged for four months and put together our wedding together that quickly as well. It made things a little stressful but I was ready to be married so I was happy to do it all. 

What shifted for you since getting married?

I think the understanding of compromise.  We often think compromise is all about giving up who we are and essentially cutting parts of ourselves and passions out so as to work and live together. I would say though that healthy compromise comes with allowing your spouse to be who they are and you being you and finding a way to be cool with each other doing so. This means that maybe you can’t have EVERYTHING as organized the way you would have done things before,  etc but you find a way to work together and be okay with it. That has really helped us in our marriage and was something that had to be worked through for a few years. 

What would you tell other brides-to-be right now?

Be confident in your love choice of your soon to be spouse, and find a way to remember and document that confidence, because that feeling and confidence you have now will be your insurance when things ever get tough in coming years. For me, whenever things are tough and I start to get upset I remember back to my reasons for why I chose Luke and that responsibility of that confidence that I had and it always make me grounded and assured in my choice to still be with him. 

What was the biggest surprise you had while planning your wedding?

There wasn’t actually any surprises during my wedding planning because we did our wedding in my parents back yard (for the reception) and the ceremony in the park next to their house and everything else as far as decorations and details I did myself with my helpers so I had a really good handle on things. The only thing I would say that was a surprise was that it got colder than expected on the day of the wedding and the guests didn’t all plan to bring sweaters/jackets (but that was on them)! 

How have your perceptions on marriage shifted since being married?

I think I’ve realized that it’s a lot more of a companionship than a sexy, exciting, romantic relationship that movies make it out to be. Not that there isn’t aspects of sexiness and romance but I think that at the very core  of marriage, we are each others witnesses to life. We get to walk through life with someone next to us, every day who sees us more than anyone else will and that is something so special despite all the sexiness, hardship and adventure.

Anything else you would like to share? 

My sister got married a couple weeks ago and I shared a quote at the end of my speech that I feel sums up marriage quite well. It’s a quote from the end of the movie Forces of Nature by a bishop from the 16th century and it says; 

"Marriage has less beauty but more safety, than the single life;  it is full of sorrows, and full of joys; it lies under more burdens, but it is supported by all the strengths of love and those burdens are delightful.”

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#wedwellbrides: Alexa

Real talk with Alexa from @thebreezybride, her wedding, and the transition to marriage. 

What was the hardest part of planning your wedding?

For me, it was balance. I started a new career six months prior to my wedding and was eager to excel on all fronts. I was lucky enough to have an amazing planner (@tessalynevents), but even so, planning our wedding felt like a full time job. When I had five spare minutes I always devoted them to work, wedding planning or some social obligation. That meant that I made very little time for myself, which retrospectively made me more stressed. Managing our family's expectations wasn't as hard as I expected, but it was taxing at times. 

What shifted for you since getting married? 

As an only child, I've always been independent and extremely close to my father. It's been interesting to notice that to a certain extent, getting married means relying on my husband for certain things I used to rely on my father for (read: car help, taxes, etc.). Also being married means I now make decisions as a team and not just an individual. If I want to jet off on a trip, I need to consider our long term goals instead of my short term impulses. I also feel much more grounded and relaxed, I'm not sure why but I felt like I started living more once I got married...Probably because I'd been planning the damn thing for 1.5 years and could finally relax once it was over. On a more obvious note, our bond truly deepened when we made that commitment to one another and it became a lot easier to be vulnerable. 

What would you tell other brides-to-be right now? 

Have faith that everything will work out perfectly—even if it doesn't. As a bride-to-be, I placed so much pressure on myself to make everything perfect and look perfect. The truth is that nothing is ever perfect and you just have to go with the flow. You uncle might have a bit too much whiskey, your bridesmaid might wear yellow nail polish instead of a neutral, but that shouldn't take away from your experience. It's your day after all. 

Also, you're still you on your wedding day. I was frustrated that my wedding dress showed one of my tattoos, but I got that tattoo for a reason and I shouldn't try and hide it to fit some archaic bridal beauty standard. Do whatever feels true to you and trust your instinct above all else. 

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#wedwellbrides: Emily

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Find her on instagram, @itsapetitelife

What has planning your wedding been like?

Planning my wedding has been a dream come true. I’ve had this day planned for as long as I can remember so being able to now actually put my ideas together is the most incredible feeling. We’re only a few months into our engagement & have two years before the wedding but we want to be as organised as possible to hopefully keep the stress at bay & make it as enjoyable as possible. I’m not having a wedding planner as I feel I know enough & am capable to do it all myself with the help of my wonderful fiancé who has the same taste as I do, & my incredible bridal party. Saying that though, there’s so much more to think about than just flowers & candles. And as much as I would love to say “It’s all about the bride!” I’m starting to now realise that isn’t so true!

What's the biggest difference you've seen in your relationship since being engaged?

It’s funny because the morning after my now fiancé proposed, we woke up & both said that we automatically felt a shift in our relationship. Even when i’ve been in long term relationships before, there’s always been that every so slightly worrying thought of them finding someone else, however as soon as there’s a ring involved, there’s that sense of security & our relationship now feels completely settled & ready for the next chapter. 

What was going through your head during the proposal?

Kristian did an incredible job with the proposal! He took me to Paris for a long weekend & proposed to me the second night we were there whilst having a meal in the Eiffel Tower. I was so wrapped up in the fact that I was going to Paris that it never even occurred to me the reason why we were going. The Eiffel Tower lights up every hour on the hour from dusk till dawn, so at 8pm Kristian took me outside just as the light show had started & whilst he was making his speech, my mind (and heart) were racing. “Eiffel Tower, romantic meal, the lights, YES!” I couldn’t string full sentences together in my head.  But there certainly was no question of whether we were ready or not because of course we were. And I still smile thinking about it months after.

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#wedwellbrides: Amanda

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#wedwell bride and Seattle blogger, Amanda, tells us about planning her wedding and how she handles disagreements with her fiance. Check out her own blog, Call Me Winters, and instagram @callmewinters.

We are so happy to connect with you! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your love story? 

I am a PNW native in the thick of starting a new job, planning my wedding and creating content for my blog, Call Me Winters. My fiancé Mason and I got engaged in Brooklyn last October and will get married next March. I’m glad we have a long engagement because planning a wedding is a lot of work and can be stressful if you aren’t keeping your priorities on what really matters. Right now, we are trying to decide which caterer and photographer we should hire.

What has planning your wedding been like?

We have a long engagement (15 months) so planning started with finding the venue, picking a date, and asking our friends and family to be members of our wedding party. I know we need to book a caterer and photographer soon because the wedding is a year away, but it's a little overwhelming to weigh all your options and stay within budget so I'm procrastinating.

What ways have you been staying healthy throughout this process?

I put an effort into exercising, self-care, and keeping things in perspective. I take walks on my lunch break 2-3 times a week. I also take a bath or do a facemask to relax once a week. Mostly, I just try to check in with myself regularly to make sure I'm not on the verge of becoming overwhelmed or having a breakdown.

What's the biggest difference you've seen in your relationship since being engaged?

We've always had a happy relationship but we are SO happy being engaged and knowing we're going to be married.

How have you and your partner handled wedding planning disagreements?

We talk a lot about our differing priorities, our budget, where we can compromise, and what is the most important to us in the big picture. It helps us not get too nit picky or upset about things that don't really matter.

Mason and I talked a lot about what ultimately is the most important to both of us: Having a great time celebrating our marriage with our family and friends. We want them to look back on our wedding and have it stand out as uniquely ours. By focusing on that, little disagreements like whether we should put more money into craft cocktails vs. a videographer are easier to manage.

How have you handled moments in planning where you were unsure of yourself?

I turn to my fiance, friends and family, Facebook groups, coworkers -- if I have questions I always ask for people's thoughts and recommendations. It helps me feel more confident in my decisions.

What was going through your head during the proposal?

I couldn't quite believe it was actually happening. I was so shocked and excited and happy. It was unreal and overwhelming in the best way.


#wedwellbrides: Jessica

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Hi loves, welcome to our #wedwellbabes interview series - getting the real talk on all things relationships, engagements, and marriage. 

We love this interview with wedwell babe, Jessica, on all things wedding planning! Find her on instagram @jessica.kaley.

Jessica- can you tell us a little bit about yourself, and your love story? 

I’m Jessica, I’m 25 years old and I’m from Miami, FL. I graduated a year ago with my Master of Architecture Degree, and got proposed to by my sweet boyfriend (now fiancé) that same day! We met (& started dating) by chance about 4 years ago on Study Abroad- I was studying abroad for a semester in his home city, Genoa, Italy. We’ve been long distance ever since, back and forth between 2 countries, but are now looking forward to getting married, in no city other than Genoa, in about 1 month. Then after that, we’ll actually be moving to live/start our life together in Dubai (long story)! Crazy to think, but I truly feel that I have found my soulmate, on the opposite side of the world. Our whole relationship, let alone our engagement has been a true journey (literally and figuratively). I never in a million years would have guessed I would be living the international fairy-tale (Lizzie McGuire style) life that I have been, but I believe that life is what you make of it, and in case I didn’t believe it before, my fiancé is proof to me, that really ANYTHING is possible. Advice to future brides: 

Follow your heart- follow it to the end of the world and back.

What has planning your wedding been like?

My wedding planning has been very exciting at moments, but also very stressful at others. It was most surprising to me all of the wedding “traditions” that I was told “I should do”, but the planning has really helped me learn the importance of compromising- both with my fiancé & to-be-in-laws and with my own family.

What ways have you been staying healthy throughout this process?

My fiancé and I have really learned to continue to practice healthy communication with each other- wedding planning has definitely led to wedding disagreements, but plenty of opportunities to have healthy resolution with each other/learning to see each other’s point of view in a better light. And when that fails, I just burn off my stress in the gym. Lol.

What's the biggest difference you've seen in your relationship since being engaged?

We have become more intense with each other’s emotions- yes we talked about the future plenty of times before, but since being engaged, my fiancé has described on multiple occasions how he has fantasized about us growing old together- and it’s always so beautiful to hear and picture being grandparents one day together. He has really been my rock, even more so than before, when I have needed him. It has created a greater bond between the two of us and a strength that is indescribable.

How have you and your partner handled wedding planning disagreements?

The priest who is marrying us recommended the book, The Five Love Languages, by Gary Chapman. We’ve been reading it together (me reading aloud and my fiancé hearing my voice as a “book on tape”) and then discussing the chapters afterwards. It’s been very helpful in understanding how to show our love with each other, and helped us in our disagreements. (HIGHLY recommend!)

How have you handled moments in planning where you were unsure of yourself?

At the end of the day, bridesmaids are SO helpful- one of mine is married, and she has been a great friend to reach out to for marriage advice. Good girl friends are key. 

What was going through your head during the proposal?

When my fiancé asked me to be his wife, we were literally in our pajamas in the room of my (tiny) college apartment I shared with my best friend in our last year of grad school. He asked just a couple of hours after I graduated with my Master of Architecture degree, and I was 1000% shocked. I actually think I blacked out a little, because my immediate reaction was that I couldn’t even speak- just bust into tears in disbelief and happiness. The most pure emotion of my life.

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Olivia: 3 Ways Yoga Can Enhance your Sex Life

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I truly think yoga is one of the best things you can do for you wellbeing. Speaking from personal experience, it has improved my quality of life in countless ways, and I know I am not alone in this belief.

Yoga promotes balance, helps you disconnect from the distractions of everyday life...and spices up the bedroom? Stay with me here.

1. Body Awareness

When you practice yoga, you bring awareness to every part of the body. You learn how to activate certain muscles, what it feels like to stretch typically ignored areas, and feel what movements feel like at a variety of speeds. Throughout all of this movement, you are taking in information about what feels good in your body. By recognizing the unique composition of your body, you are able to recognize what feels good in your body (on the mat or in the bedroom), and be able to vocalize your preferences!

2. Self Love

With my personal sex life, I have a really hard time getting in the mood if i’m not feeling good about myself! Whenever I am tired, bloated, or experiencing something putting me in a less than stellar mood, I struggle to initiate sex, and have a hard time getting in the mood when my partner does. Luckily, yoga has helped improve this aspect of my life in multiple ways. Yoga has empowered me to appreciate everything my body does, and not get hung up on outside appearances. Regardless of if I’m having a bad hair day, or unexpected breakout, yoga helps me feel sexy by loving every part of my body, helping me experience a boost of positive through endorphins, and getting out of my own head. Through breathwork, positive mantras, and reflection, I am able to separate myself from negative situations in my life, and fully arrive to my relationship and full of live.

3. Flexibility

I know, I know, this one is a no brainer. But it’s an obvious statement because it’s true! By increasing your flexibility you’re able to confidently experiment with new poses in the bedroom, allowing you to build new connections with your partner and explore what feels the best in your body.

My sexual encounters are the best when I’m feeling empowered, confident, and comfortable. Yoga has definitely helped me tap into this mindset more freely, and I hope it does the same for you!