4 Fun Date Night (or Day!) Ideas for You & Your Fiancé

 Happy Bride, Relationships, Wellness  Comments Off on 4 Fun Date Night (or Day!) Ideas for You & Your Fiancé
Mar 242014
 
date night ideas

Photo: Getty

One of our favorite engaged girls, Lauren Conrad, recently dished to People about her favorite date nights with fiancé William Tell and talked about the importance of making time for each other. Conrad is onto something that relationship experts (and happy long-term couples) all know: Setting aside regular, but special time for one another is key to making a relationship last.

And it's not just theory, it's fact. A study by the National Marriage Project concluded that weekly date nights (or days or weekends) foster stronger marriages and relationships in five ways: by improving communication, injecting novelty, stoking "eros" (um, you know, "romantic love"), underscoring commitment, and simply providing an opportunity to de-stress — together.

So while we know wedding planning can be hectic, don't forget to schedule in quality time with your guy. In case you've had one too many Netflix-and-wine nights, we rounded up four fun date ideas to freshen things up:

Put the iPhone Away for a Night: You won't believe how refreshing it can be to log off Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and every other social media outlet for a few hours. Instead, go on a hike, play Frisbee in the park, rent a kayak at your local lake or set up a cute picnic — just go outside! According to a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, there's a positive correlation between a shared experience of "novel and arousing activities" (arousing here being defined as active, exciting, or unusual) and relationship quality. Bonus: You can get a great workout without spending any more time in a smelly gym!

Refresh Your Palate: Every couple has their favorite spots, but there's a fine line between "our place" and a rut. To inject that all-important sense of novelty into your relationship, take turns picking new restaurants to try. You can scour local listings, get recs from your friends or just wander around a new neighborhood and try the first cool place you stumble upon. It's an easy and tasty way to keep things fun and unexpected.

Become an Expert: Study after study shows that learning new skills keeps your brain young. It does something similar for your relationship, too. So, take up painting or pottery together. Enroll in a Thai cooking class. Take an auto repair course and finally restore your future father-in-law's 1965 Mustang.

Get Your Culture On: Opera. Art. Theatre. Movies. Live music. The human imagination and the amazing things it creates is what separate us from the animals. Let it spark your own ideas by strolling through a museum, catching a show or joining an art crawl or gallery night. Even if you don't love what you see, it will spark new cultural discussions with your future husband. After all, how many Thursday nights can you spend arguing over whether or not Scandal's Olivia Pope belongs with Fitz or Jake?

Eat These 5 Foods for the Steamiest Wedding Night Sex Ever

 Happy Bride, Relationships, Sarah Jio, Wellness  Comments Off on Eat These 5 Foods for the Steamiest Wedding Night Sex Ever
Mar 132014
 
foods to eat on your wedding night

Photo: Getty Images

Sexy lingerie shouldn't be the only thing on your wedding night shopping list — a few aphrodisiacs should be, too. Whether you believe in the idea of libido-boosting foods or not, experts say there are certain nutrients that can improve your sex life. So, in the weeks leading up to your big day, we recommend incorporating a few of the magical fruits, vegetables, and snacks into you and your fiancé's diet. It can't hurt, right?

Here, five foods you should eat to ensure more than satisfying wedding night sex:

Avocados: Rich in vitamin E, potassium, vitamin B6, and other vital nutrients, this superfruit is good for heart health and blood flow — essential for a healthy sex life. Guacamole anyone?

Almonds: Loaded with zinc, selenium, and vitamin E (all important nutrients for sexual health and reproduction, just in case you have babies in the brain), experts say that almonds may help increase men's sex hormones and provide a libido boost.

See More: 4 Healthy Eating Changes Every Bride Can Make Before the Wedding

Sweet potatoes: You and your guy should skip the mashed potatoes and opt for sweet potatoes instead. An excellent source of potassium (and vitamin A), sweet potatoes may help fight high blood pressure, which is a common culprit that leads to, ahem, erectile dysfunction.

See More: 8 Scientific Ways to Make Your Relationship Stronger

Watermelon: Your favorite summer fruit may also be a secret weapon in the bedroom. Low in calories and rich in phytonutrients like lycopene and beta-carotene, a study by Texas A&M researchers found that watermelon may relax blood vessels, which could, fascinatingly, jump-start your sex drive in the process.

Blackberries: Those blackberries you sprinkle in your yogurt or cereal every morning may actually be giving you an unexpected boost in the bedroom. Its heavy dose of antioxidants do the trick for sexual arousal and endurance, says Dr. Anna Maria and Dr. Brian Clement, authors of 7 Keys to Lifelong Sexual Vitality. For best results, they recommend eating 10 berries a few hours before you get intimate.

3 Experiences You Need With Your Girlfriends Before Your Wedding

 Happy Bride, Relationships, Sarah Jio  Comments Off on 3 Experiences You Need With Your Girlfriends Before Your Wedding
Mar 072014
 
Experiences Brides Need With Friends Before Wedding

Photo: Taylor Swift/Instagram

If you're an engaged girl, this is the time in life when you're most focused on the love of your life. But we don't need to remind you how important your BFFs are—and how you shouldn't put your relationships with your dearest friends on the back burner while you focus on all things wedding-related. (Worried you're being a bad friend? Here are five signs that you may be!).

So beyond the bachelorette party, bridal shower and wedding dress shopping, we propose putting some good old fashioned girl time that's not wedding related on your schedule. Our inspiration? The recent celeb girls' getaway that Reese Witherspoon, Drew Barrymore, and Cameron Diaz all took to Napa Valley; and Taylor Swift's recent girlfriends' weekend with her BFF Karlie Kloss. (Taylor's Instagram feed was filled with the two together on beaches, hiking around in the forest and posing with adorable animals. Cute!)

It made us think of all the fabulous, bonding and stress-releasing girlfriend experiences brides can have before the big day. No, these aren't gorgeous getaways to Napa (save that for your bachelorette party!); rather, they're easy ideas that probably used to be part of your regular routine—but may have fallen off your radar ever since wedding planning took over your life! Here, three easy ideas that you should make time for again :

See more: 4 Healthy Eating Changes Every Bride Can Make Before the Wedding

Break a sweat: Your friendship has weathered all kinds of ups and downs. Honor it with something active and outdoorsy like a day hike, where you can catch up with your pals while doing something heart-healthy! (Not the outdoorsy type? Sign up for a class like Bar Method or Zumba!)

Have a beauty day: If stress is running high (and, um, we're sure there will be times when it is!) book massages, manis or pedicures with your BFF. Then hit Sephora or your local department store's beauty counter to try on new shades of lip gloss.

Schedule a wine night: Make it an old-fashioned sleepover, but extra-special with good wine or cocktails, a cheese plate, olives and a great loaf of bread. Settle in for a night of movies, conversation, and tears if need be. You'll have less of this one-on-one time with her after the wedding, so carving out a night of at-home fun is extra special now.


4 Healthy Eating Changes Every Bride Can Make Before the Wedding

 Happy Bride, Sarah Jio, Wellness  Comments Off on 4 Healthy Eating Changes Every Bride Can Make Before the Wedding
Mar 062014
 
After Party Wedding Guide

Photo: Getty Images

You want to be your best self (inside and out!) for your wedding, right? Of course you do! And nutrition plays a key role in how we feel and look. Here are four hot-off-the-press nutrition fixes you can make for a healthier body and mind before your wedding day.

Eat more eggs. Surprising advice, right? But eggs are getting the thumbs up from health experts who say that not only are they a great (and affordable) source of lean protein, but they also may be loaded with health benefits we hadn't considered before. Take the new study from researchers at Tufts University: They found that eggs are chock-full of two antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin, which are known to radically improve memory and brain function (every stressed-out bride could use a dose of that, right?).

See more: 8 Scientific Ways to Make Your Relationship Stronger

Curb your meat and cheese consumption. Yes, you need your protein, but consider other sources (see above!). Here's why: the more meat and cheese you eat, say researchers in California, the higher your overall cancer risk (four times higher, in fact). Eek! Vegan pizza anyone? Or, better yet: Have fish, which was recently linked to boosting good cholesterol levels in the body.

Say yes to dark chocolate: The latest research from scientists in the Netherlands finds that dark chocolate (rich in antioxidants) is too good to pass up when it comes to heart health. Bonus: Other studies have shown that chocolate can give you a measurable mood boost. Just keep it to one or two small squares (2 ounces tops) a day, say nutritionists.

See more: 3 Healthy Changes to Make Before Your Wedding

Cut your sugar intake in half: After combing through years of research on the negative health impacts of sugar (for starters: diabetes, weight gain, dental issues, acne), the World Health Organization recently issued a new recommendation for the world: attempt to cut your sugar intake in half, and better yet, see if you can reduce the added sugar you consume in a day to a mere six teaspoons. Tough, but worth trying for!

Say Yes to Sex Tonight! (Here’s the Surprising Reason Why)

 Happy Bride, Relationships, Sarah Jio, Wellness  Comments Off on Say Yes to Sex Tonight! (Here’s the Surprising Reason Why)
Mar 042014
 
Health Benefit of Sex

Photo: Getty Images

Some of the smartest people you know may be sharpened their minds in a surprising way: by having sex! The finding comes from a recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Maryland, who say that having sex, shockingly, might make us more intelligent.

See more: Stressed Out? The Little Trick to Feeling Better Fast

In their study of mice, they found that sex boosted neurons in the hippocampus, the area of the brain that holds our long-term memories. Not only did sex sharpen the mind, the researchers say that when the mice were prevented from having sex (poor mice!), they saw a decline in cognitive function.

Clearly, we're not rodents, but the ever-growing list of health benefits associated with sex piques our interest.

See more: The Surprising Relationship Booster That Will Make You Feel More Appreciated

In fact, a recent study from researchers in South Korea says that sex floods the brain with oxygen, which makes us more intellectual. And past research indicates that couples who remain sexually active into their elderly years are less likely to suffer from dementia and other forms of cognitive decline. So, go ahead—say yes tonight!

Bridal Book Club, Anyone? How Reading a Novel Can Boost Your Mood

 Happy Bride, Sarah Jio, Wellness  Comments Off on Bridal Book Club, Anyone? How Reading a Novel Can Boost Your Mood
Feb 282014
 
Reading Novels Zaps Stress

Photo: Getty Images

Brides, if you're having one of those days, try this lesser-known anxiety-reliever for a little pick-me-up: Grab a novel and disappear into a few chapters. Call it bibliotherapy, but as it turns out, there's something to the idea of books helping to zap stress.

See more: He Said, She Said: What Your Language Says About Your Love

In fact, it's the hypothesis of a new study, published by psychologists at Emory University, who found that not only does reading novels improve brain function, but it also may help reduce your anxiety. "The neural changes that we found associated with physical sensation and movement systems suggest that reading a novel can transport you into the body of the protagonist," writes the study's lead author Gregory Bern. In other words: Reading can transport you from your stressed out reality to another world, and give you a shot of courage in the process. Bonus: The good-for-your-mind effects of reading last for hours, even days after finishing a great novel, say the researchers.

So why not put reading on your weekly to-do list? (Full disclosure: I'm a novelist so I'm a bit biased in favor of the idea!) Pack a great book along with you for your commute on the train home instead of zoning out with your music and text messages. Or, rather than turn on The Bachelor on Monday nights, pick up a classic novel and actually read about a romantic hero instead!

See More: 3 Healthy Changes to Make Before Your Wedding

The late American novelist James Baldwin said it best: "You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive."

Now that's stress relief.


A Brilliant Way to Get Wedding To-Do’s DONE (Try It!)

 Happy Bride, Sarah Jio, Wellness  Comments Off on A Brilliant Way to Get Wedding To-Do’s DONE (Try It!)
Feb 282014
 
How to Manage Wedding To-Do List

Photo: Getty Images

Oh, the dreaded to-do list. You have to call the florist, get bids from DJs, apply for the marriage license (and let's be honest, who really wants to make a trip down to City Hall and stand in a long line?) ... and falling behind on any number of tasks could spell trouble for your wedding day. But there's a better way to deal with the list than to fall into the vicious cycle of stare at it, stress, repeat.

See more: 3 Reasons Why You Should Brag About Your Awesome Hubby

Happiness expert Gretchen Rubin has an effective trick that really works—whether you're tackling wedding planning tasks or just getting day-to-day stuff done once you're married. In fact, she puts it into practice once a week for the little, non-urgent tasks that always nagged at her. "They weighed on my mind and sapped my energy," she writes of her to-do list. "As I walked through my apartment, or sat at my desk, the accumulation of these little chores made me feel overwhelmed." (Sound familiar?)

Her solution: "Once a week, for one hour, I'd steadily work on these chores," she writes. "An hour didn't sound like much time, but it was manageable."

See more: 3 Healthy Changes to Make Before Your Wedding

Rubin calls this one-hour of her week "Power Hour" (apparently, there's a theory in psychology that if you call something an easy-to-remember name, you're more likely to remember and stick to it).

Now, clearly, wedding planning tasks are going to suck more of your time than one single hour, but by using this expert strategy, you might try allotting an hour to the most annoying, dreaded wedding planning tasks (think: noon on Mondays) and just knock them off, one at a time.

The net result? A less stressed-out you.

Could This New App Stop Wedding Fights? We Think So!

 Happy Bride, Relationships  Comments Off on Could This New App Stop Wedding Fights? We Think So!
Feb 272014
 
Happy marriage app

Photo: Getty Images

"I just called to say I love you."

Unless you're tuned in to an easy listening station and a Lionel Ritchie song is playing, it's unlikely you've heard or said that phrase lately. In the beginning of a relationship, you can't stop texting and calling each other to say the mushiest things, but as you settle into a life of coupledom, those sentiments start to be shared less frequently. And in the midst of hectic wedding planning, conversations between brides and grooms tend to involve a lot more nagging ("Did you confirm the canapes with the caterer?) than whispered sweet nothings.

Enter Romantimatic, a new app, available for $1.99 on the iTunes store, that will send you friendly reminders to tell the man you love that you love him. Its settings let you select your sweetheart from your contact list and choose the days and frequency of when you need reminders to express your feelings. When the reminder prompts you with a musical alert and an encouraging note—"Send some love!" or "It takes so little and means so much."—it gives you the option to call or text your beau.

Just like an alarm clock, you can hit "snooze" to put it off, or "skip" to cycle through to your next scheduled reminder. Not sure what to say? The app also provides a helpful list of options, from all-time classics ("You make me happy.") to busy-but-thinking-of-you ("Totally swamped, but can't get your off my mind."). Just click on the saying you like and it automatically fills your text window with the phrase—no typing required.

Romantimatic may not solve all your wedding-planning conflicts, but it will be hard for him to stay angry when his cell displays, "My pants just vibrated, and I thought of you."

3 Healthy Changes to Make Before Your Wedding

 Happy Bride, Sarah Jio, Wellness  Comments Off on 3 Healthy Changes to Make Before Your Wedding
Feb 262014
 
Healthy Changes Brides Can Make Before the Wedding

Photo: Getty Images

We've talked about how to avoid the biggest time wasters, and how to de-clutter your home to make it a place of inspiration and calm. Here are three more small, healthy changes that will help you get wedding-ready:

1. Re-think alcohol: Seattle Times columnist Nicole Brodeur has a yearly tradition: Each January, she gives up alcohol for one month. The idea is to center and refocus. "It seems time to quiet my mind and body," she writes. We think this strategy is a good one for brides, too—especially the month before your wedding. You'll have the added benefit of losing a few extra pounds before the wedding, and a clear head—and the champagne you toast with at your reception will taste that much sweeter.

2. Adopt 'fitness Sundays': Maybe you go to the gym often during the week (good girl!). But for most of us, weekends get packed with wedding planning to-dos, and exercise falls off the schedule. Because being active will make you a healthier, happier bride, we love the idea of picking one no-excuses day to be super-active. Grab your fiancé and head out on a bike ride, a run, or even try your luck at rollerblading. You'll sleep better that night and be happier for it, and, bonus: active Sundays mean one more opportunity in the week to tone up before the wedding.

3. Let something go: Is something gnawing at you from your past? A person who hurt you? A traffic ticket that you're still mad at yourself about? A neighbor who you swear is giving you dirty looks in the street? Try letting it go this month. So often, we let things (and people) have power over us when they should not. Try writing a letter to a person from your past and then tossing it in the fireplace. Forgive yourself for a flub. And the next time someone gives you a mean look, just smile. You can't make things perfect, but you can control what gets under your skin.

The Wedding Planning Survival Kit: 6 Things Every Bride Needs to Stay Sane

 Happy Bride, Sarah Jio, Wellness  Comments Off on The Wedding Planning Survival Kit: 6 Things Every Bride Needs to Stay Sane
Feb 262014
 
Wedding survival kit

Photo: Getty Images

Planning your wedding is one of the most exciting (and yes, stressful!) times of your life. Self-care is hugely important for brides-to-be, which is why we think that every engaged gal needs these simple items to stay calm, cool and collected:

1. Herbal tea: Even if you're not really a tea-drinker, it might be time to think like a Brit and schedule time for afternoon tea. Here's why: Not only is herbal tea packed with calming botanicals, the ritual of teatime in and of itself can be very centering and de-stressing. Keep a few bags in your purse so you can having a calming moment at work—or after a meeting with a wedding vendor.

2. Almonds: If you're going to keep one quick, accessible snack in your bag, make it almonds. For starters, they keep well, but they're also packed with vitamin E (good for your skin) and they're packed with protein, so they'll give you a much-needed boost of energy when you're feeling depleted. Just remember, a serving size is about 1 oz., or approximately 23 whole almonds.

See more: Tying the Knot Vs. Living Together: Your Brain Has a Surprising Preference

3. Some good quality ear-buds: When you need to check out (and you will!), make sure you keep your ear-buds handy so you can plug into some music at your desk at work or even while grocery shopping. Music can be both soothing and uplifting, and mental health experts often encourage people to keep ear-buds handy during seasons of stress.

4. A fragrance that makes you feel gorgeous: If you don't already have a signature fragrance (or maybe you're just tired of yours), make it your mission to find one you love before your wedding. You might be surprised at how a great perfume can make you feel elegant, beautiful and uplifted (and you'll love the compliments your husband-to-be gives you!).

5. A pretty notebook/organizer: No, we're not suggesting you lug around a portfolio the size of the one you had in your junior-high-era backpack, but investing in a pretty catch-all/carry-all organizer is one key to bridal bliss. Make it small in enough so it fits in your purse, and large enough that it can hold receipts, magazine clippings, and notes from meetings with vendors.

6. Chocolate: One thing is a given with wedding planning: you're going to need an occasional pick-me-up. Our favorite mood enhancer: Antioxidant-rich dark chocolate! Stock up on some high-quality squares for an indulgent treat you can actually feel good about eating.


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