A Love Story of Your Very Own

Every girl’s favorite holiday is fast approaching. Perhaps this February 14th will be your first with your new Beloved and you are already all a-jitter. My son proposed to his wife on Valentine’s Day, and when I was small my mother always gave us children a Valentine’s Day party or presents. No matter what kind or stage of your relationship, it’s a fun time to celebrate the ones you love.

What is not so fun is failing at these romantic milestones. I think this is maybe why, in most cases, we girls enjoy holidays like Valentine’s Day so much than our men do. I mean really, how many men do you know who are already looking forward with delightful anticipation to what they’ll get or do on Valentine’s Day? Girls see a hopeful opportunity for all their romantic daydreams to come true. Guys peer through that fog of daydreams hoping to see the mark they’re supposed to hit and feel sure they’re about to fail.

So, girls, let’s love our men well and not let them fail this Valentine’s Day.

The fastest way to failure is unspoken expectations. Rather than wait around and hope your man is the one man in history who knows exactly what his woman is secretly dreaming of and has it all planned out, communicate. Why not talk about what the two of you are going to do for Valentine’s Day? If you really want to go out for a fancy dinner, why not suggest a local? If you hate chocolate, mention it now! Don’t wait for him to surprise you will a big red box, only to be frustrated he didn’t think of the roses you wanted.

If you bring up the subject of Valentine’s Day plans and he says, “NO! Stop! I have it all worked out, and you’ll just have to wait and see!” then be excited for whatever he has in mind, not what you hope he has planned. So many times our men DO make romantic plans for us and we just don’t recognize it because they are the plans we would have made. As Rosie told Meg Ryan, “You don’t want to be in love; you want to be in love in the movies!”It’s so much sweeter in life to love the real man you’ve chosen, rather than the man romantic comedies and daydreams concoct in your mind. Enjoy the way he loves you, not the way you would love yourself I you were him! J

As in everything, give thanks. Be thankful for the good man God has given you to love. Tell him you’re thankful. Put his heart and mind at ease about your love and your expectations so that he truly will anticipate your Valentine’s Day together. Celebrate love, not fleeting romantic follies. Make your first Valentines the first of many sweet days, not the first test he has to pass. Be open and communicative, not shy and hopeful which could become manipulative and testing.  Make Valentine’s Day one of his favorite holidays too.

Revel in the love story God is telling in your lives – not someone else’s, not from a Hollywood script, not in the perfect fairytale. This Valentine’s Day fall in love with your very own real-life love story. Make it the best story of your life.

Posted in Uncategorized | | Comments Off on A Love Story of Your Very Own

Wedding Season

Let the wedding planning season begin!

June and August may be the wedding months, but January marks the beginning of wedding planning season. Come January, all those New Year’s Eve engagements and June weddings produce a flood of brides with wedding fever. I’m surprised Pinterest hasn’t crashed! 🙂

If you’re recently engaged, I’m sure you’ve noticed that wedding expos are popping up at every local convention center and hotel and your mailbox is beginning to overflow with shiny flyers and tempting coupons. You can even get your copy of All Things Are Ready at a discount this month!

Those who may have already purchased All things Are Ready will know I would be suggesting a March rather than June date for all those girls who got a ring for Christmas. However, regardless of your wedding date, a whole lot of you brides out there are getting busy!

Here’s a few tips to keeping you from getting swept away as you wade into the wedding season. These are all discussed in greater detail in All Things Are Ready:

  • Beware of wedding-show Steals-and-Deals. A wedding expo, convention or trade show can be a lot of fun. You can glean lots of great ideas in just a few short hours of browsing. Going with your mom or girlfriends can be a fun get-the-creative-juices-flowing event. However, it’s very easy to get carried away by all the “Buy Now and Save” speeches you will hear from eager vendors. I suggest a plan of action before you go so that you don’t spend money you weren’t intending because the deal was just “too good to be true.” Take your notebook, your iPhone camera and your mom or maid-of-honor. Agree ahead of time that you won’t sign any contracts or make any purchases at the show. Collect dozens of flyers; try the samples; talk to the professionals. Don’t believe them when they say their best prices is, “Only available at the show!” However temptingly presented, a show price isn’t always the best deal, and if you go back to any of the those vendors a month later, ready to sign a check, and tell them you want the show price, you’ll get it.
  • Remember your venue determines just about everything else – what kind of reception you can have, how many people you can invite, what time of year will work, whether your first-choice of wedding date is available. Don’t lose track of that first priority of securing your venue(s) in the excitement of more romantic events like wedding dress shopping.
  • Do shop the January sales at the bridal-wear retailers. I’ve known a few brides who’ve found their perfect dress for a perfectly ridiculously good price off the winter clearance racks. Don’t reject the big-box bridal stores out of hand. A quick hour will show you whether you really can’t find a unique dress you love there and the off chance of discovering a gem at a huge savings is worth investing a little time.
  • Collect ideas and “style board” them before you start shopping in earnest. If you are anything like me, everything looks pretty! It’s just that everything doesn’t look pretty together. Whether you use Pinterest, a notebook, or an actual style board, put ideas together and look for themes and colors that start to emerge. Try and get a general sense of the look, feel and atmosphere you are going for in your wedding style before you get out there and find yourself submerge in beautiful wedding samples. Keep to those things that are on your list or fit your style and resist the temptation to buy everything you fall in love with while shopping. If it doesn’t “go,” it’s out!
  • Above all – have fun! If wedding expos, shopping or even just “Pinteresting” stresses you out – take a break. Get help. Ask a friend. Go on a date with your honey and don’t talk wedding. Do what is enjoyable and what has to be done. Don’t go to every wedding-planning event you’re invited to just because it’s the thing to do. As in so many areas of life, don’t let the fads of the day dictate what you do and what you let run your life. Enjoy this season!
Posted in Planning a wedding, Wedding tips & ideas | Tagged , , , , , , | | Comments Off on Wedding Season

Choosing the Best Wedding Dress – 6 Options to Consider

Heirloom Wedding Dress

Heirloom wedding dress

If you are fortunate enough to have the option of wearing an heirloom dress, jewelry, or some other piece of wedding finery, count yourself blessed! What an honor to carry the legacy of previous generations of faithful brides as you become a bride yourself.

If you are wearing an heirloom piece, take great care in its handling. Find out what expectations come along with its use. Is it permissible to have the item altered, tailored or redesigned? How does it need to be cleaned before and after its use? What will happen to it after the wedding – is it a gift or a loan? It is likely that any heirloom piece will be seen as a precious possession being handed down or lovingly shared. Be sure you understand the expectations involved so that you will know how to care for it, and express your appreciation for its use.

Handmade Wedding Dress

Some brides wish to make their dresses themselves or have it made by their mother, grandmother or another friend or family member willing to bless them with this service. Often this will allow you to choose many different design elements and combine them into one dress that is perfectly suited to your taste and build. It allows you to wear a completely unique dress and gives you choices in style features outside of whatever is en vogue during your wedding season. Brides also choose this option simply for the sentimental or heirloom quality of wearing a lovingly handmade dress.

If you choose to wear a handmade dress, keep in mind that making a dress can take just as long or longer than specialty orders from a dress shop and will not necessarily save you money. The fabric, design, and time involved will likely cost just as much as buying a dress off-the-rack. The exception would be a very casual or simple gown that may not be offered by dress shops.

Choosing a wedding dress

Custom Made Wedding Dress

If you do not know someone who is willing and able to make your wedding dress, but you are unable to find something you like in the dress shops, you can opt to have your dress custom made. This will most likely be an expensive option, but will allow you to be a part of designing just the dress you want. If you wish to have your dress custom made, you should call local dressmakers for a consultation and quote. If you cannot find a resource for local dressmakers, try asking the largest local fabric shop if they know of anyone who does custom work.

Chain Store Wedding Dress

The most common way of finding a wedding dress is to spend a “girls-day-out” with your family and girlfriends, trying on dresses at the local dress shops. No matter how many great little shops you have locally, start with the largest wedding chain store in your area. They will likely have the largest selection of dresses in-store for you to try on. Trying on fifteen or twenty dresses in a broad array of styles will help you narrow your decision down to particular style you end up liking.

When initially trying on dresses keep a few things in mind:

  • Many bridal shops require an appointment, especially if you are bringing several people with you. You may save time and get better service if you call ahead.
  • Plan to go more than once. This takes the pressure off of choosing a dress NOW. Many brides despair after trying two shops and not finding something in the first hour. Lord willing, you will only be a bride once – it may take awhile to find the perfect once-in-a-lifetime dress!
  • Don’t go alone. It always helps to have a second pair of eyes and someone to bounce ideas off of. If having too many opinions will be intimidating to you, but there are several people who want to be there when you choose a dress, make your first outing just for fun. Invite your mom, mother-in-law-to-be, sisters, and girlfriends. Don’t plan on making any big decisions. Just enjoy the excitement for your wedding day, have lunch, laugh and be silly.
  • Be aware that many brides end up buying a dress completely unlike anything they had in mind when walking into the bridal store. Try lots of styles and let the sales ladies make suggestions. You are only looking for one dress – they see hundreds of dresses and brides a year and often have developed an eye for what is flattering. They may even know what you will like better than you do.
  • Keep in mind that most dresses today are made with options. If you don’t want to wear a sleeveless dress but fall in love with one they “force” you to try on, it probably has the option to add straps or cap sleeves. Just ask.
  • Take the undergarments you will wear with your dress when you are trying on wedding dresses. A dress will fit much differently with a strapless bra, bustier or girdle and may even look different on. You may not need to bring these for your first try-on, but certainly for any fittings or for a final purchase.

Second-Hand Wedding Dress

The most cost-effective way to purchase a wedding dress is to buy one second-hand. There are consignment shops that specialize in wedding dresses, and you can buy them from the same places you buy other second-hand items: Craigslist, Ebay, classifieds, etc. It may take awhile to find just what you want, but you will save a lot of money. Since these dresses have been worn only once, they will mostly likely not look used. If you can find something you love second-hand, there’s very little reason not to buy your dress this way. Like any second-hand item, be sure to check the dress over carefully for stains or flaws, and try it on before purchasing. Also, keep in mind that you will need to arrange for hemming, alterations, cleaning, and pressing since you are not purchasing from a bridal shop where such things are often included.

Boutique Wedding Dress

Once you have found a style you like and specific features you are looking for, you may want to expand your search to the smaller wedding boutiques. A lovely little wedding boutique will have attentive salespeople and usually carry more unique dresses than the larger chain stores. Sometimes this will mean they charge top dollar, but don’t assume this is the case. Famous designer boutiques will make you feel like royalty for a price, but a small shop doesn’t necessarily mean big dollars. A smaller shop usually attends to little details that make the bride feel special and helps her discover just what she really wants.

Do realize that a boutique will most likely have to special order your dress. They may have a few dresses for sale off-the-rack, but smaller shops simply don’t have the room to rack every size for every dress they carry and will only keep in-store a selection to try on for special order. Special orders usually take a minimum of six months for delivery. Be sure that their ordering schedule fits your wedding date or ask to only see off-the-rack dresses.

More wedding dress tips and other bridal apparel is discussed in chapter 8, “Arrayed in Fine Linen” of All Things Are Ready.

Posted in Wedding tips & ideas | Tagged , , , | | Comments Off on Choosing the Best Wedding Dress – 6 Options to Consider

Christian Wedding Planner On Sale through January 31!

“It’s full of wisdom…” — Susan Olasky (WORLD Magazine, Dec. 1, 2012)

“This book will help get the bride down the aisle beautifully and calmly.” — From the foreword by Nancy Wilson

“It is amazing!!!” — Review on Amazon.com

Wedding Planner BinderAll Things Are Ready is a new wedding planning tool for Christian brides and wedding planners. This planner is unique in that it approaches the wedding planning process from a distinctly Christian, Bible-based viewpoint. Written by a pastor’s wife and experienced wedding coordinator, the book  is based on three basic assumptions:

  1. Planning your wedding doesn’t have to take very long (unless you want it to).
  2. The cost of your wedding should not exceed what your family can afford.
  3. A Christian wedding is all about rejoicing in what the Lord has done in the lives of two people and their families.

All Things Are Ready is full of to-do lists, planning resources, tips, budgeting and timeline tools, options for personalizing your wedding, ideas for portraying biblical themes, and devotions to keep your focus on the Lord and the work He is doing in your life through marriage.

Order from Doorposts.com $39.00 $33.00

Order from Amazon.com $39.00 $34.99

“All Things Are Ready was the singular most helpful resource in planning my wedding!” — Review on Amazon.com

“This planner is the most comprehensive one I’ve seen! …Amy even details how it is possible plan a wedding within 12 weeks (I seriously didn’t think that could be possible, but now I am convinced otherwise!)” —  Review at Hephzibah Bride

The story behind All Things Are Ready

Download free sample pages

About the author, Amy Hayes

Posted in The wedding planner | Tagged , | | Comments Off on Christian Wedding Planner On Sale through January 31!

“It’s full of wisdom”

Susan Olasky, senior writer at WORLD Magazine, says of All Things Are Ready:

“Newly engaged or about-to-be engaged couples will find helpful All Things Are Ready, a Christian wedding planning notebook by Amy Hayes (Doorposts, 2012). It includes checklists and sections on budgeting, setting a date, and wedding style—things common to any wedding planning guide—but also questions and advice to encourage Christian couples to think about the greater meaning of the celebration. It’s full of wisdom: In a chapter on registering for gifts, Hayes includes this reminder: ‘Remember that your temptation will be towards self-absorption during this time of life. The antidote is to be thankful in all things.'” —Susan Olasky (WORLD Magazine, Dec. 1, 2012)

Posted in The wedding planner | Tagged | | 1 Comment

Advice for a Groom

For some couples, the groom will have an “advice night” before the wedding. This is usually in addition to (or instead of) a bachelor party. It’s a time for friends and married men of the church gather and share advice with the groom before he becomes a husband.

Giving advice to the groomHere’s some counsel gathered from several advice nights. The wedding planner All Things Are Ready also includes a letter to the groom, in addition to the bride’s devotionals.

  • Since both of you are sinners, marriage requires a large amount of trust and grace. You will discover differences. Rejoice in them and be gracious.
  • Look for opportunities to serve, and remember that the two of you together can accomplish a lot more together than you can separately.
  • Make a point of noticing and commenting on what your new bride is doing to set up your new home. Let her know you appreciate her work.
  • The root of most problems is communication. If you’re not talking, find out why. Be persistent!
  • Men like to debate, to get down to the subject and put our gloves on. Women are different!  Be kind, patient and gentle as you discuss issues with her.
  • Be humble and thankful for how God has blessed you. Do not be complacent about God’s  blessings or take them for granted.
  • Try to out-do one another in serving — but be humble in accepting her service to you as well.
  • Your wife will value time just talking with you.
  • Don’t assume you know what she’s thinking — ask, find out.
  • Call daily from work. Write notes for her.
  • Pray with her and for her.
  • Remember you might be wrong. Be the first to apologize.
  • Make memories together in the time before you have children. Set traditions early.
  • Read your Bible and pray together daily.
  • Communication is definitely important. All the hype about it is true. To be active and not passive in your communication, you will have to adapt and find new ways to communicate.
  • Keep learning together. Have a teachable spirit that looks for opportunities to grow.
  • Enjoy the journey of marriage and even the strange things that God brings into your lives. God will see you through whatever trials might come.
  • Learn to be happy yourself in the midst of making your wife happy. Working together as a team creates happiness and fulfillment.
  • Start by assuming that you don’t understand what she’s thinking, and expect that there’s a high likelihood that you caused the problem.
  • Be thankful for your godly heritage. Consider all the men around you. Don’t be afraid to ask for more advice after you’re married, when real questions come up. You have lots of godly people to imitate. Stay connected with your family and church.
Photo credit: Jenn Lynn Images
Posted in Wedding tips & ideas | Tagged , , | | 1 Comment

A Christian Wedding: Bridal Shower Devotional

Peter Mahar Photography

Last night I had the privilege of giving the devotional at my daughter’s best friend’s bridal shower. I have watched this young lady grow up alongside my daughter and it is a joy to participate in her wedding journey. In a few weeks I will be coordinating her wedding. For now, these are the words I shared with her at the party…I am SO pleased to be asked to give this talk. When your daughter’s best friend wants your input and advice, you feel like, “Okay, they don’t think everything I’ve said or taught them for the past 10 years is dumb and outdated!” 🙂

I’m NOT going to tell you all the common failings of the new bride.

I’m NOT going to give you my best tips on running a happy household.

I’m NOT going to repeat Proverbs, Titus, or Ephesians on godly womanhood.

You have a lifetime of wifehood ahead of you and many good men and women have already filled the church library, Sunday school classroom and pulpit with wise words on how to fulfill your goal as a godly woman, wife and mother.

I have just one thing to say to you tonight and that is…

Be C’s biggest fan

Peter Mahar Photography

We all know one true thing about who C is.

C is a sportsman. He thrives on success and takes every loss personally. His whole body tells us all in the stands how the game is going – is C strutting, slumping, or stomping out?

What does the true athlete need? A cheerleader.

Now, I’m not suggesting you don a short skirt and start talking like you left half your brain at the mall. Not that kind of cheerleader!

However, what every husband really wants deep-down is someone to be his biggest fan. Someone to think he’s the best thing since Babe Ruth or Beethoven, depending on your man. C needs many things from you – advice, strength, help, tenderness, service, all those things you find as you read your Bible with an eye towards wifehood. But one of his most basic needs is for you to be on his side, in his court, cheering your heart out. Even if he never wins a game.

My sport is baseball, and you know which teams have had the most beloved fans of all time? The Brooklyn Dodgers, Boston Red Sox and NY Mets. Some of the losingest teams in the game have some of the greatest fans of all time. They are there through every agony, defeat and are the ones who party the craziest when success does come. Whether he’s hitting a home run as a husband or is on a losing streak, the true fan will still be in the stands, cheering.

So, my encouragement to you is to be C’s biggest fan for life both publicly and privately. I’ll give you a few ideas of what this looks like at home and with others and then conclude with a couple of thoughts on what being a good cheerleader accomplishes.


  • Bore your friends by how much you tell them how wonderful your man is – I’ve heard you do this, “Well the nice thing is, C helps me.” Continue in this, self-consciously throughout your marriage.
  • Let your words and actions demonstrate that you think your man is a pretty hot number, the best thing that’s ever happened to you and all you’ve ever wanted.
  • Never deride him publicly – speak wisdom to your husband wisely. This means at the right time, in a kind way and with the goal of blessing, not chastising, him.
  • Don’t share his faults – some of the women I admire the most are those who’ve been in my husband’s office, seeking his help for their marriage and I’m totally shocked to see them there. Their conduct and speech about their husbands never revealed the real struggles they’ve lived with. When such a woman could no longer think of solutions for her struggle alone, she went directly for help, rather than subtly running her husband down for years, building up a group of friends who see her as the godly martyr.
  • Get help from those who can help


  • Praise him – if you feel like there’s nothing to praise, think smaller! Give 15 encouragements or praises for every one corrective counsel.
  • Encourage him positively – notice the good, cover the bad in love.
  • Verbally acknowledge his good ideas and silently forgive his bad ones.
  • Don’t repeat his failures to him.
  • Be disposed to think of his way as a good way
    • One of the best ways to build up your husband is to defer to his way of doing things. Don’t be silent. Don’t be stupid. Be a helpmeet. But in all the little ways you can, do it his way. Make him feel like his ideas are the best ones. Don’t make him feel like he needs to keep his mouth shut because you’re going to think what he has to say, his plans, dreams or thoughts are ridiculous. Watch out when you hear yourself tell him things like: “That’s such a guy thing to say/do,” “No, that’s not the right way.” “Why don’t we do this instead?”etc. Not necessarily wrong to say any of these things, but use wisdom. Make sure you are an easy wife to lead and your words and actions make him feel confident and important in your eyes.

What this accomplishes

When C is assured into the depths of his being that you are on his side and will be cheering for him, no matter what, he is able to take risks and conquer kingdoms for Christ and for you.

When C has felt your support and affection for years and years and you do make a mistake, treat him poorly, or criticize him it will be hard to believe and easy to forgive. If he spends a lifetime wondering if his every step will earn your disapproval, he will be easily wounded, believe the worst of himself and you, and harbor bitterness rather than forgiveness when you do sin against him.

So, bless your husband. Bestow your good favor upon him liberally.

Be his biggest fan.

Peter Mahar Photography

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | | 4 Comments

Come say hello!

Have a burning question about your upcoming wedding? Want to chat about what you like or dislike in the planner? Need ideas for planning a distinctly Christian wedding? Want to look through All Things Are Ready before you buy your own?

Now’s your chance!

Come visit the Doorposts booth at the OCEANetwork Conference this Saturday between 10 and 11am and I’ll be there ready to talk weddings. I can personally walk you through All Things Are Ready, answer questions about your wedding and would love to just chat about all your favorite wedding ideas. I look forward to meeting many future brides, mothers-of-the-bride and mothers-in-law this weekend.

Hope to see you there!

Posted in Uncategorized | | Comments Off on Come say hello!

Wedding Tip Wednesdays: Bridesmaid Gifts

I saw this cute idea on Pinterest today and thought I’d share the link:


Bridesmaids Gifts :  wedding DSC 0014What a fun way to let your girlfriends know you care about their needs too on your big day! Sometimes the dynamic between a bride and her bridesmaids is more drama than delight. Fun little gestures like this seem like a good way to bring delight to the friends who join you on your wedding journey.

Posted in Wedding tips & ideas | Tagged , , , , , | | Comments Off on Wedding Tip Wednesdays: Bridesmaid Gifts

A Christian Wedding

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end. I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives, and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor—it is the gift of God.” Ecclesiastes 3:11–13                  

“Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31

*Grammy Pics Photography

Weddings are times of rejoicing. As Christians, our rejoicing reaches beyond simply throwing a party and celebrating the couple’s happiness. We rejoice before the Lord. At a wedding, we rejoice ultimately in the mysterious work the Lord has done in bringing these two people together and establishing a new part of His kingdom work on earth. He makes everything beautiful in His time, and there is nothing better for us than to rejoice in it. We rejoice before Him because we trust His goodness, His good gifts, and the good work He is doing in us.

*Bert Coombs Photography


Rejoicing in this way is deep and full. It results in feasting and fellowship to the glory of the God who has done this good thing. This is what we want to reflect in our Christian weddings: rejoicing that is done distinctly before the Lord and for His glory.

Many Christian couples have sought to rejoice before the Lord by bringing passages, stories, and themes from Scripture into their wedding celebration. This chapter has no “to-do” lists or boxes to check. Instead, the following pages discuss a few ideas for using Scripture to define the message and style of your wedding.

Through four examples of biblical wedding themes, Chapter 15 of All Things Are Ready provides a starting point for those wishing to bring the Word of God to bear on their wedding day. While it is by no means true that you must use a passage or wedding story from the Bible in order to have a distinctly Christian wedding, a couple is certainly able to do so if they feel it would deepen the joy of their celebration and bless their guests.

Did you have a Scripture-based theme at your wedding? Share your stories and ideas with brides-to-be in the comment section below!

*Jenn Lind Photography

Posted in Uncategorized | | 1 Comment