African Wedding Customs to Know As a First-Time Guest

By Whitney Teal

Learn what to expect before attending your first African wedding. Just remember that customs vary a lot throughout the various religions and ethnic groups of the continent.

Fotos by Fola

Africa is a large and diverse continent, and African wedding customs vary a lot depending on the region, nation, religion and ethnic group of the couple. The United States is home to a dynamic African diaspora from many different countries, so it’s not surprising you’ve been invited to an African wedding. Fret not! While the basic mechanics of the ceremony (readings, vows and symbolic rituals) will likely be familiar, there will be some cultural differences you will definitely want to know.

These are some of the most popular African wedding customs you might see as a guest.

North African wedding customs

This majority Muslim region of Africa includes Morocco, Libya, Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia.

It’s traditional for brides from this region to perform a ritual bath, called a Hamam, to purify themselves before marriage. Next, the bride and her closest will gather for a henna party, where their hands and feet will be decorated with traditional dye for good luck. If you’re part of the African wedding’s bridal party or a close friend of the bride, you might also be invited to this the night before the wedding.

North African weddings are almost always Muslim, so the rituals and customs will be derived from Islam. It’s important to dress conservatively in the Mosque for the ceremony (no bare arms or legs for both genders), and for women to bring a scarf to cover their heads. You will also be asked to remove your shoes before entering the ceremony location. A Muslim wedding will feature a short ceremony called a Nikah, which is totally segregated by gender. The wedding reception might be fully separated as well, with different rooms for men and women, or partially separate with a partition down the middle or men and women at different tables.

West African wedding customs

Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Cameroon and Senegal are among the nations in West Africa.

Nigerian Americans are a sizable population in the United States, so the odds of you being invited to a Nigerian wedding are high. Depending on the tribe, customs will vary.

Yoruba traditional weddings feature a ritual called Tasting of the Elements, which represents the balance of emotions in a relationship. Food or drinks that are sour, hot, sweet and bitter are presented to the couple by the officiant and eaten to show they’re prepared to go through life’s good and bad together.

The Igbo are another Nigerian tribe with unique wedding rituals. Sharing of the Kola Nut is native to this tribe and may be performed at a traditional ceremony. The couple symbolically shares this small nut during the ceremony, then keeps the rest of it in their home to remind them of their commitment to one another.

Aso ebi is a tradition that spans much of West Africa and involves a ceremonial cloth that not only the bridesmaids, but also close friends, sisters and cousins of the bride will all wear for the wedding. The bride’s mother and the groom’s mother may also choose to pick out their own cloth for their close family and associates to wear as well. The aso ebi is a way of showing your closeness to the family during ceremonial events.


East African wedding customs

Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya and Tanzania are among the large nations in East Africa.  

Swahili people are native to Kenya, Tanzania and parts of Central Africa as well. Many from this part of the continent practice Islam, and their wedding customs mirror those of other Islamic cultures. Similar to North Africans and Indians, Swahili weddings feature a pre-wedding henna party for the bride, bridesmaids and the other women closest to her. Swahili grooms and their friends gather for a night of fight-dancing before the wedding called Kirumbizi.

Amhara people are native to parts of Ethiopia and their traditional weddings feature garments made from Habesha cloth. Brides wear elegant white gowns made from this fabric with trimmings in gold or red, and accents in deep greens, bright blues or rich black. The groom’s attire can be a Western suit or a long coat with pants in the same cloth.

Ethiopian Orthodox is one of the most popular religions of the region, and many Ethiopian American couples will host their weddings in this fashion. With similar teachings as Greek Orthodox and Catholic religions, these weddings always take place in a church and feature Holy Trinity symbolism.

Central and South African wedding customs

South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Angola and the Congo are included in this region.

Zulus are a large and important ethnic group that span this region. The traditional Zulu wedding ceremony is called Umabo, although couples from these countries also normally have a “white wedding,” or a Westernized ceremony, on a different day. You may be invited to both ceremonies.

Traditionally, an Umabo took place at the groom’s parents home, but modern couples might adapt this. Zulu brides where a cow skin skirt that is reserved for married women and a special headdress, called Isicholo, that is a also a sign of being married. The ceremony begins with the groom’s father welcoming his new daughter-in-law, then the bride’s father giving away his daughter to her new family. The family and guests usually sit on grass mats as the brides sisters and bridesmaids bring gifts from her to her in-laws.

12 Popular Wedding Ceremony Rituals and What They Symbolize

By Samantha Iacia

To help you choose exactly which wedding ceremony ritual is right for you, we’re breaking down the history and symbolism for some of the most popular options.

Ivvor Rocha Photography

Whether you’re researching for religious or cultural reasons, or you’re simply looking for ideas to personalize your vows, there are a handful of wedding ceremony rituals that you can consider incorporating into your big day. Some of these popular wedding rituals have religious origins, while other ceremony traditions are easily adaptable for secular and non-denominational weddings. You might already be familiar with some of the more common options—such as lighting a unity candle, sand ceremony, or breaking a piece of glass—but this guide will ultimately help you choose the best one for your day.

Keep reading to learn more about the most popular wedding ceremony rituals and their meanings.

Santa Cruz Officiant

Jumping the broom

This tradition dates back to the 1800s and is believed to have origins in western African weddings and Wiccan communities. Jumping the broom takes place at the very end of the wedding ceremony, after the officiant pronounces the couple as officially married. The newlyweds jump over a broomstick before the recessional to symbolize sweeping away their old lives and welcoming their new life together.

Waypoint Ceremonies

Unity candle

The wedding ceremony ritual of lighting a unity candle, which began about 30 or 40 years ago, represents the joining of two people and their families. Before the parents from both sides take their seats, they (traditionally the mothers) each light a taper candle and place it next to a pillar candle that remains unlit throughout the ceremony. After the couple exchanges their vows, they light the pillar candle using the flames from the taper candles, signifying several generations of commitment.

Susan Ann Weddings & Events

Sand pouring ceremony

The exact origins of this tradition are fuzzy, but sand pouring is one of the most popular wedding ceremony rituals around today. For this idea, the couple pours two separate vases of sand (usually in different colors) into the same vessel, creating a layered, one-of-a-kind pattern. From that point forward, it will be impossible to ever separate the colors, which represent the blending of two people forever. Many couples personalize this ritual by using sand from meaningful locations.

Steven Mitchell JP

Wedding ceremony time capsule

This is a newer wedding ceremony ritual, but we love the romantic notion behind it. Before the wedding, you and your spouse write love letters to each other and then seal or lock them inside a box during the ceremony. Traditionally, the letters are accompanied by a bottle of your favorite wine or champagne—and any other mementos you want to save as a keepsake. You’ll eventually open the box at a later date, such as an anniversary or life milestone.

Fredericks Photo and Films

Cord of three strands

This popular wedding ceremony ritual has Biblical origins. As described in Ecclesiastes 4:12, the cord of three strands (also known as God’s knot) is the most difficult cord to destroy or tear apart. The three strands represent you, your partner, and God joining as one. You can use loose cords of any kind for this ritual, but if you want to turn the braid into a keepsake after your wedding day, you can easily find decorative unity boards made especially for this tradition on sites like Etsy and Amazon.  

ring warming ritual during ceremony <li>jessika feltz photography

Ring warming

Believed to be an Irish or Gaelic wedding ceremony tradition, the warming of the rings takes place when the couple’s wedding bands are passed around by guests during the ceremony. Each person is asked to briefly hold the rings in their hands while also saying a short, silent prayer for the couple (if desired). The rings are returned to the couple with blessings and positive energy for a long, happy marriage.

Reverend Alvin L. Powell

Wine unity ceremony

Wine has been a symbol of life and prosperity for centuries. There are several variations of using wine during a wedding, especially at religious ceremonies, but a common option is to have two small carafes of wine, one white and one red. After exchanging rings, the couple pours the wines into a third carafe, creating a blend. They each take a sip of the mixed wine to represent their individual lives becoming one.

Married by Maree


The handfasting ceremony tradition is a Celtic wedding ritual with medieval roots. It involves binding the couple’s hands together with ribbons or cords to symbolize their union. In the middle ages, handfasting was used in place of a marriage license before weddings were recognized as legal responsibilities of the government and church. Each colored cord has its own meaning, such as white for purity or red for passion.

bride and groom foot washing ritual <li>brett loves elle photography

Foot washing ceremony ritual

Foot washing is a Christian wedding ceremony ritual inspired by the Bible verses John 13: 1-17 in which Jesus washes his disciples’ feet. It is usually done to symbolize the couple’s service, humility and commitment to each other.

The Mackey House

Burying the bourbon tradition

Burying the bourbon is a Southern tradition that’s said to prevent rain or bad weather on your wedding day. Exactly one month before your wedding, dig a hole at your ceremony site and bury an unopened bottle of bourbon (make sure that it’s upside-down). According to the superstition, you’ll have sunny skies for your wedding day! Right after you and your spouse say “I do,” dig up the bottle and enjoy. While we’re not positive that this works, we can’t argue that it makes for a priceless photo op.

bride and groom jewish wedding breaking the glass <li>meewmeew studios

Breaking the glass

This Jewish wedding tradition takes place after the rabbi announces the newlyweds. The groom smashes a wrapped piece of glass with his foot, which is followed by applause and a cheer of “Mazel tov!” from the guests. Tradition says that the couple will remain married for as long as the glass is shattered, while others believe it symbolizes the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. 

Waypoint Ceremonies

Unity tree planting ceremony

This wedding ceremony ritual is easily customized to your wedding theme and personal style. It has no official religious or cultural ties, but the tradition itself symbolizes you and your spouse beginning a new life together. Taking care of your tree (or whichever type of plant you choose) will remind you to nurture each other throughout your marriage, even when the honeymoon phase fades! Like flowers, trees symbolize different things—for example, cherry trees represent good fortune—so choose a type of tree that resonates with you the most. During this ritual, you and your spouse will take turns adding soil and water to the seedling. 

How to Change Your Name After Marriage & Everywhere to Do It

By Stephanie Hallett

Figuring out how to legally change your name after marriage takes time, so try not to feel frustrated if it seems like a never-ending process. Here’s your handy checklist for the top places to change your name after the wedding.


You’ve taken the plunge and perhaps decided to either take your spouse’s last name or create your own last name with your partner after the wedding. So you’re probably considering how to change your name after marriage. Since your name does not change automatically when you get married, you have to make sure you follow all the necessary legal steps to changing your name after the wedding.

The first steps in legally changing your name after marriage involve making your married name official on all of your legal and personal documents. To complete the post-wedding name change, you’ll need a few certified copies of your marriage certificate (we recommend requesting at least three copies) and all of your old IDs (including passport, driver’s license and Social Security card). Once you have those documents together, you’re ready to start tackling the project of legally changing your name after marriage! 

So, how long after getting married can you change your name? You can actually do it ASAP. Well, as soon as you have those certified copies of your marriage certificate in hand, at least. But remember that the name change after marriage process takes time — for many people it could take a year or more to fully switch over — so don’t feel frustrated if it seems like this is taking forever. (Another great option is HitchSwitch, a service that literally takes care of all this name change paperwork hassle for you.)

Below, you’ll find exactly how to change your name after marriage — while not all of these will apply to you, and some you can complete before others, you’ll want to stick to the order we’ve outlined for the first five.

Social Security Card

The first stop on the journey of how to change your name after marriage should be the Social Security Administration (SSA) office; in some states, the DMV and other offices will require you to show a Social Security card in your married name to move forward, which is why it’s a great first step in the name change after marriage process.

Can you change your name on your Social Security card online? Unfortunately no, you need to go IRL, but check this link for a step-by-step guide to correcting the name on your Social Security card; you’ll need your marriage certificate, ID, this form and possibly proof of citizenship (learn more here) to make the change.

Driver’s License

Next up: the DMV. Driver’s license name-change requirements vary from state to state, so Google “changing my name on my [state name] driver’s license” and you should find everything you need to know. Be sure to visit your state’s official DMV website (it will have a .gov address). You’ll need your marriage certificate and photo ID, along with an official form and possibly your Social Security card.


The requirements for changing your name after marriage on your passport vary according to when your passport was issued, so check here to see which category you fall into. Be ready to show proof of citizenship, your marriage certificate, a color passport photo and possibly your photo ID.

Bank Cards and Credit Cards

Figuring out how to change after marriage with your bank or credit union could require an in-person visit, but you may be able to make the switch over the phone, too. Call your financial institution and let them know you’re newly married and have changed your name—they’ll help you figure things out from there. Remember to change your name on all of your accounts, including your credit cards.

Immigration Documents

If you have a green card, visa or other immigration document that lists your pre-marriage name, you’ll need to change it before you can travel again after your honeymoon (always book your honeymoon using the name on your passport and immigration documents. You won’t officially be Mrs. or Mr. New Name until you’ve visited Social Security, the DMV and other offices on this list!) Google “changing my last name on [name of immigration document]” to find out the steps you need to take to update your documents. If you have an immigration lawyer, they can help you with this.

Lease Agreement

Changing your name after marriage for your lease is pretty straightforward: Call your landlord! They may want to see your marriage certificate and driver’s license, but they’ll let you know over the phone.


You will likely need to show your marriage certificate and new Social Security card to update your loan documents; call your creditors and ask them exactly what to do, where to go and if you can change your name by mail or phone.

Car Title/Registration

This changing your name after marriage process for your car title and registration will vary state by state but will, at the minimum, require you to show your marriage certificate and fill out a form. Google “changing my name on my car title/registration in [state]” to find your local DMV’s requirements.


Once you have your new Social Security card, you’ll need to show it to your employer and have them change your last name on their payroll accounts. That helps ensure that the SSA keeps accurate count of how much you’ve paid into Social Security. Your employer will also need to update your name on your health, dental and other benefit accounts to prevent any gaps in coverage.

Wedding Minister Watsonville

Insurance Accounts (car, life, home etc.)

Your insurance broker can help you change your name for things like your auto or home insurance, and the HR department at your workplace can help you update any life insurance plans you have through your job. If you have health insurance through a state or federal agency, or have health insurance directly through an insurance agency—and not an employer—let them know you’ve changed your name.


If you have a home loan that lists your pre-marriage name, call your lender and talk through their requirements for making a name change after marriage. You may want to add your spouse to the mortgage (if he or she is not already on it) and refinance your loan. Go over all of these options with your lender.


Contact your county’s deed office to find out how to change your name after marriage on your property title. You may need to fill out a “change of owner statement” (or the equivalent) and show your marriage certificate. This will be important if you ever decide to sell your house. You can also ask about adding your spouse to your deed at this time.


This is your gas company, water and power, internet service provider, cell phone provider and any other services that bill you, including Netflix! Call them all and let them know you’ve changed your name.

Doctors’ Offices

You’ve already told your insurance providers about your new married name, now it’s time to let your doctors, dentists and vets know, too. This will help prevent any difficulties at the front desk the next time you need to see a medical professional.

Kids’ School

If you have children, stop by their school(s) and let them know you’ve changed your name after marriage, that way they have the right name on the pick-up list and know how to address you if they have to call or send home a notice.

Diva Matters Ministry

Professional Licenses

Doctors, lawyers, nurses, notaries public and anyone else with a professional license will need to contact the relevant licensing board and get your certificates updated with your new name.

Investment Accounts

If you have a financial planner, give them a call and ask for help figuring out how to change your name after marriage on your investments. And if you have a 401k or other retirement savings account, be sure your employer or financial institution updates their records accordingly.

Voter Registration

Don’t get caught out in the cold on Election Day! Google “change name on voter registration [state]” to find out the name-change requirements in your state.

Alumni Associations

If you’re active in your alumni association, let them know you’ve changed your name so that they can address you correctly and pass on the right name to others who might be looking for you.

Airline Frequent Flyer Programs

Each airline has a different policy when it comes to changing your name for their frequent flyer programs, so be sure to call the individual carriers where you have accounts. You may have to mail or fax in a copy of your marriage license. And if you’re traveling on your honeymoon immediately after your wedding day, remember to book the ticket under your maiden name.

Social Media Accounts

Changing your name after marriage on your Facebook or Instagram is a little less important than your Social Security card and driver’s license, but definitely easier—so you’ll probably update them first! Even if you don’t want to change your handle, you can update the full name associated with your account. Here’s how to do it for the major social media platforms:

  • Facebook: Facebook does have certain rules associated with changing your name, but if you’re simply changing to your married name, it shouldn’t be a problem. Click on Settings, then Name. Adjust your name to your married one, and then save the changes. Also note that you can only change your name on Facebook once every 60 days.  
  • Instagram: Simply edit your profile. You may change your username and/or the name associated with your account. 
  • Twitter: Edit your profile to change your display name and/or username to reflect your new married moniker. 
  • LinkedIn: If you’re changing your name professionally as well as personally, it’s important to change your name on your LinkedIn profile. Click on the Me icon, then View Profile, then Edit Intro to change your last name, and save. 

Email Accounts

You may or may not choose to create a new email address once you’ve changed your name after marriage, depending on if the actual email address includes your maiden name. Either way, if you’ve changed your name, make sure you adjust the name that appears when you send email. 

Autofill Name

If you rely on your internet browser’s autofill function, seeing your old name on a regular basis could start to drive you crazy! Here’s how to update Chrome and Safari.

You’ll definitely come across smaller accounts and subscriptions with your old name as time rolls on—feel free to update those as you encounter them. Once you’ve gotten the important stuff out of the way, the rest will fall into place.

8 Things Happy Couples Do for Each Other Every Day

By Jenn Sinrich

Just because you’re finally married doesn’t mean you can stop working at your relationship. Here, experts share their best tips to help ensure a successful marriage.

close up portrait of Black couple. she is smiling at the camera while he kisses her cheek

The term “happy” might mean something different for everyone, but, in essence, it means being fulfilled and at peace with the life we have. This very much includes the people we surround ourselves with—namely our significant other. According to Julie Williamson, licensed professional counselor who practices in St. Louis, Missouri, the answer to how to be a happy married couple means to feel the freedom to be fully yourself, both positive and negative attributes, knowing and trusting that your partner will love and accept you, even when you’re less desirable qualities shine through or during times of conflict. “For some couples, happiness may look like spending the majority of their time together, even running small errands with each other,” she says. “For others, it may look like each individual taking space and time for themselves, and then coming back together for quality time.” Wondering where you and your significant other fall on the spectrum?

Relationship experts share their best-kept secrets for how to be a happy married couple.

They intentionally listen to each other.

Especially when you live together, it can feel like all you do is spend time together and talk—but how intently you converse and communicate is key. Putting down your smartphone, shutting off the TV and turning off Spotify playing in the background are all important dos that should be done prior to listening to your partner—and is essential in the “how to be a happy married couple” quest. “Truly listening, speaking from the heart and wholeheartedly throwing themselves into whatever it is that they’re doing allows them to actually be with one another in the present, which contributes to a deeper connection,” says Amanda Stemen, licensed clinical social worker with private therapy and coaching practice in Los Angeles, California. “When speaking with one another mindfully, each feels heard and understood, which increases the love.”

They check in with each other.

It may sound simple, but it always surprises Williamson to hear from couples who treat each other more like roommates. “You don’t have to take a full hour to have a conversation, but taking three to five minutes and asking your partner how they’re doing, about their day and what their plans are for the rest of the day can be helpful,” she says.

They’re physically intimate.

Physical contact is necessary for healthy growth and development—even in adults. “It also increases emotional connection, which in turn increases physical connection, and the cycle continues,” she adds.

They give each other compliments.

When it comes to how to be a happy married couple, it’s always nice to hear someone give you praise and admiration, especially those closest to you. Acknowledgement of the positive things you and your partner are doing affirms your appreciation for each other. “Compliments strengthen the relationship, whereas frequent criticism can destroy a relationship,” says Stemen. “It can be challenging in long-term relationships to remember what drew each person to the other or find new things to compliment, but looking for the positive will always lead to finding it.”

young couple holds hands as they run through a forest

They take adventures together.

After a while, it’s normal for couples in long-term relationships to fall into a routine that, at times, can become mundane. This is why it’s so important to switch things up and try new things together. “This doesn’t mean having to traverse the world or climb mountains—although that works too—it could be as simple as cooking something new together, going roller skating instead of the movies on date night or refinishing an old, boring piece of furniture in the home,” says Stemen. “It doesn’t matter as long as it’s new and different.”

They do nice things for one another.

This doesn’t have to mean a romantic grand gesture—something as simple as brewing your partner a cup of coffee before he or she leaves for work in the morning can go a long way in terms of relationship happiness. “Buying something nice out of nowhere (or for a special occasion), making breakfast in bed or planning a surprise getaway also mixes things up a little,” says Stemen. “The idea is this lets one another know they’re being thought of and how important they are to their significant other.”

They spend time apart.

A secret ingredient to how to be a happy married couple is time spent together and apart. “Doing things without one another creates a sense of mystery that keeps the relationship from getting old,” says Stemen. While this time apart can be spent with other people, Stemen also points out the importance of spending alone time. “It allows for connecting and reflecting on oneself, the relationship and relationships with others and something greater than ourselves (If that’s important for each),” she says. “This reflection strengthens a relationship, creating far more happiness than when a relationship is too codependent.”

They practice self-care.

While you might not associate some of the things you do for yourself, such as working out or getting monthly massages, as something that would benefit your partner, but you should! “Taking care of yourself is taking care of your partner,” says Williamson. “As you practice self-care and become mindful of your own thoughts and feelings, it allows you to ‘fill your tank’ so-to-speak, gives you energy to engage with your partner and helps you make clear and thoughtful decisions regarding what you say and how you relate to them.”

How to Ace Your First Big Vacation Together (Like Your Honeymoon!)

By Jaimie Mackey

Before you head on your first vacation together, be sure to check out these honeymoon travel tips for couples!

couple holding hands ibiza spain

Your honeymoon is the trip of a lifetime, but there’s also a chance it’s your first big vacation together. This trip will be chock-full of memories you’ll cherish forever, but it can also be a major learning experience as you figure out your travel styles and spend a lot of uninterrupted time together (in an unfamiliar place, no less!). Heading on your honeymoon is totally exciting, but it can also be stressful — or lead to disaster! — if you don’t prepare before you head to the airport.

We chatted with a few travel experts who happen to be couples themselves for their top tips for your first vacation together, as well as how to avoid the most common pitfalls.

Don’t Over-Plan

“It’s easy to want to pack your honeymoon schedule to make the most of your time off of work, but your first vacation together as a married couple is really a time for you to slow down and enjoy life as newlyweds,” say husband-and-wife travel experts Collette and Scott Stohler of Roamaroo. “You just planned a wedding, so take some time to relax!” The Stohlers recommend leaving your first day wide open so you can sleep in, nap, or just take some time to wander around your destination. “Make sure to get out into the sunlight, which will help you acclimate to the time zone,” says Collette Stohler. Want to plan a walking tour or activity? Schedule one every other day so you have some downtime (and freedom!) in between.

Pare Down the List of Destinations

It can be tempting to try to hit as many cities or locaations as you can, but that can lead to a totally hectic first vacation together where you don’t quite get the feeling for any of the places you visit. “Spend more time in fewer destinations,” says Scott Stohler. “You’ll be able to relax, recover from jet lag, and immerse yourselves in the local culture so much more.

Think Outside the Box

Your married friends will all have suggestions for the perfect honeymoon destination, but you don’t have to take their advice! “If your friends all loved Mexico or Jamaica, but going on a safari is at the top of your bucket list, head to Africa instead,” suggest Adam and Hannah Lukaszewicz, the husband-and-wife team behind Getting Stamped. “You can have that adventurous safari honeymoon, and then spend a few days on the beach in Zanzibar for a little relaxation! We took a two-week honeymoon in Thailand and spent less money than all of our friends did on their one-week getaways, and had an epic adventure.”

Don’t Go All-Out With the All-Inclusive

Yes, the deals might be great, but all-inclusive properties really encourage you to, well, stay on the property. Says Hannah Lukaszewicz, “Consider spending at least some of your time at a smaller boutique hotel. That way you can get off the resort, see more of your destination, and try things like local restaurants and activities.”

Learn to Compromise

Planning an extended first vacation together will quickly highlight any differences in your travel styles, meaning you and your partner will have to start compromising right off the bat. “One partner may love hiking, camping, and other outdoor adventures, while the other might prefer more relaxing, luxurious activities,” say Alesha Bradford and Jarryd Salem of NOMADasaurus. So you’ll have to find a happy medium where you’ll both get what you’re looking for.

Embrace Alone Time

“It’s important to let one another enjoy the things they love, rather than holding each other back,” Bradford says. “If that means spending a few hours apart, embrace it! Traveling together is amazing, but only if both parties are happy.” And hey, you’ll reunite for dinner that evening with all sorts of stories and pictures to share!

How to Know When You’re Ready to Drop the “L” Word

By Samantha Iacia

Three words. Eight letters. These tips will help you decide when to say ‘I love you’ to that special someone for the first time.

Kate Edwards Weddings

Falling in love and knowing exactly when to say I love you for the first time is a different experience for every couple. But if you feel like those three little words are lingering on the tip of your tongue, there are some general guidelines that can help you decide whether or not you’re ready to take the plunge!

Here’s how to know when to say I love you for the first time.    

When bae becomes the best part of your day.

As you transition from “just dating” to full-on monogamy, you’ll start developing a deeper connection with your S.O. that goes beyond flirty texts and casual meetups for drinks. That person who was once just the cute guy (or girl) you’ve been getting to know is suddenly the most attractive human ever — one who also happens to now be an integral part of your day-to-day life. You can’t wait to talk to them each morning, you don’t go to bed without saying goodnight, and they’re the first person you turn to when something goes wrong. You’re on cloud nine whenever you’re together, even if that means ordering takeout and watching Netflix on the couch.

When you’re able to have meaningful conversations.

Part of being in love is feeling understood, or at the very least respected, by your significant other. Maybe your S.O. can put you at ease in a way that no one else can, or maybe they can always tell when there’s something on your mind that you’re leaving unsaid. If you’re thinking about when to say I love you, having a strong line of communication with your partner is a telltale sign that you might be ready. When you feel comfortable having meaningful, honest conversations with your S.O. about things like personal values, past relationships, future goals, and even silly debates about which sushi place is better, it’s a huge step in the right direction toward lovebird bliss.    

When you feel relaxed and comfortable together.

When you’re with the right person, letting your guard down is something that will happen naturally over the course of your relationship, even if you’re the most reserved person on earth. Once you start opening up to your S.O. and revealing things that you probably would have kept secret otherwise, it’s a major sign that you’re smitten. Whether you’re sharing embarrassing yearbook pictures, letting your partner see you without makeup for the first time, or accidentally mentioning that you’re low-key obsessed with anime movies, feeling comfortable enough to allow your true colors to shine is a good indicator of when to say I love you.

When you can’t escape the butterflies.

Do you get butterflies every time your S.O. walks into the room and whenever their name pops up on your phone? Whether you’ve been together for six weeks or six months, getting the butterflies when your partner is around is an obvious sign that you might be ready to say I love you. Another telltale sign? You’re constantly thinking about bae and can’t stop smiling when you’re telling your besties about him or her.

When the future doesn’t totally freak you out.

We’re not saying that you have to start planning the wedding tomorrow, but if you can picture yourself with your S.O. for the foreseeable future, it’s a positive sign that love is on the way. Think about your next relationship milestone: Have you met the parents yet? Are you planning your first couples vacation together? If you’re considering when to say I love you, these types of relationship benchmarks should stir up feelings of excitement and optimism!

When you’re doing things that are out of the ordinary.

As the adage goes, falling in love can make you do crazy things — and all it takes is a few beloved rom-coms to remind us just how elaborate a profession of love can be (Love Actually, anyone?). An obvious sign that you’re ready to say I love you is if you’re switching up your normal routine or going out of your way to make your partner happy. Sometimes, your subconscious knows when to say I love you before you’ve even had the chance to realize that you’re ready! Maybe you’ve caught yourself daydreaming about dropping the “L” word or have even had to stop yourself from saying it in conversation. Or perhaps you’re suddenly willing to do things you’d never agree to otherwise, like driving across town at a moment’s notice or switching up your daily routine, just to spend a few hours with your significant other. If this is the case, it’s time to reveal your true feelings!

7 Signs Your Partner is Madly In Love With You

By Jenn Sinrich

Whether you’ve been in a relationship for a while or are in beginning stages, you might be wondering if your partner really does love you. Here are some ways to tell.

couple kissing at altar

It’s easy to fall for what we see in the movies when it comes to being “madly in love.” However, in real life, the meaning or understanding of “madly in love” and answering the question “does my partner really love me?” is a bit more, shall we say, real—and, in fact, it very much varies based on the individual or couple, as well as the stage of relationship the couple is in. “For many couples, being madly in love is associated with passionate love—the hot desire, desperate longing, and passion—that couples feel at the beginning of their courtship, which usually decreases in intensity over time,” explains Terri Orbuch, Ph.D., professor at Oakland University in Michigan and author of 5 Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage from Good to Great.

Dr. Orbuch also points out that there is more than one type of love that occurs in relationships. One is full of passion, known as passionate love, and the other is a love filled with friendship that keeps two individuals truly happy over the long-term. “This second type, called ‘companionate love,’ is characterized by friendship, intimacy and commitment, and has been found to actually increase over the course of a relationship,” she says. “For other couples, being madly in love is associated with companionate love, along with reigniting romance and passion.”

But if every relationship is different, and the experience of being “madly in love” can vary based upon the individual affected, how does one know they’re madly in love—does their partner really love them? Here are some key signs, according to relationship experts.

They want to spend most, if not all, of their time with you.

If you’re trying to answer the question, “does my partner really love me?” there’s one easy way to find out. A madly-in-love partner is likely to want to be together as much as possible. “They love being with you whether you’re doing something special, traveling, or just hanging around and chilling out and this ‘urge to merge’ can lead to a wonderfully reassuring and familiar relationship—or, eventually, a feeling that you need to build in some alone time!”

They make you a priority.

“When your partner makes you and the relationship a priority over other things in his or her life such as work, friends and personal hobbies, they are showing you they value the connection,” explains Rachel Needle, Psy.D., licensed psychologist and certified sex therapist. “Making time when they are busy or re-working their schedule to be with you for something that is important to you shows love and commitment.”

They are thoughtful and pay attention.

When you’ve had a bad day at work and want to vent to your partner, does he or she listen and give thoughtful advice? If so, this is a good sign that the answer to the question “does my partner really love me?” is a resounding yes. “When your partner listens to details and goes out of his or her way to make you feel special, cared for and heard, it is a sign of love,” says Dr. Needle.

They align their interests with yours.

Especially when you and your partner first fall in love, a very strong sign that he or she is madly in love is that he or she is twilling to alter their priorities and make changes to better align with you, says Dr. Needle. “Being open and willing to make changes and try new things that you enjoy, shows that your partner is committed to the relationship.”

They introduce you to friends and family.

“When your partner is madly in love with you, they are happy if you connect (and they want you to connect) with people who are important to them,” says Dr. Orbuch. “Not only do they want to show you off to others, but they like the idea that their family and friends understand firsthand all of the amazing qualities that made them fall in love with you in the first place.”

They speak in “we” not “I” language.

Whether or not you live together, when you’re in a committed relationship with another person, your lives naturally become intertwined. “When your partner no longer considers you two completely separate people, but instead, as a couple, this is a sign that he or she is madly in love with you,” says Dr. Orbuch. This, she explains, can be noted in the language he or she uses to refer to you as a couple. “When someone asks you what you did last weekend, he or she might respond by saying, ‘We went to the movies and we had a fantastic dinner,’ rather than, ‘I went to the movies with Sandy, and took her out to dinner afterwards.’”

They share intimate and personal information with you.

“Love motivates people to share extensive personal, often confidential, information with a partner,” says Dr. Orbuch. “They feel an urge to share things about their childhood, desires, feelings, and aspirations for the future to you (and with you).” Although you might think that your partner is merely an open individual, it’s quite possible that he or she has not revealed these feelings and desires to other people they know.

How a Simple Wedding Checklist Can Save Your Life

By Kim Forrest

With so many little details to tend to, planning a wedding can make you go a little crazy! The easiest way to stay organized is to use a simple wedding checklist.

couple kissing with bride veil

With so many little details to tend to, planning a wedding can stress out even the most organized couple. But a simple wedding checklist can be a real lifesaver when it comes to figuring out all the ins and outs of planning your big day.

Here’s why a simple wedding checklist will be a huge help when it comes to planning your special day.  

It’s accessible from anywhere.

By using a digital wedding checklist, you can access and update your task list from your computer, mobile device, tablet, wherever. So whether you just dropped your invites off at the post office or met the photographer of your dreams, you can check off each task in real time. No more toting your wedding planning binder everywhere you go—it’s all online!

It works with YOUR timeline.

Whether you’re planning your wedding in two years or three months (or somewhere in between), it’s ideal to find a simple wedding checklist that will schedule all of the important tasks in your timeline. On WeddingWire, just enter your wedding date and the checklist will be scheduled for you. That way, you can prioritize the tasks to handle right away and those that can wait.

You can customize it.

No two weddings are created equally—and the same goes for checklists. By using a simple wedding checklist online, you can add tasks that are unique to your wedding (For example, “Help Grandma make her travel arrangements.”)—and remove those that don’t apply to you (For example, you may not need to hire a caterer if your venue includes one.). By customizing and personalizing your wedding checklist, it will feel far less daunting and even more useful as you plan your big day.

You can sort it by date and category.

We’ve all had those middle-of-the-night wedding-planning-related panic attacks: “When do I have to get a marriage license?” or “Is it too late to order wedding favors?” By using an online wedding checklist, you can not only sort your tasks by date so you can easily preview your upcoming responsibilities, but also filter by category. Whether you want to review all of your tasks relating to your DJ or figure out what you need to do the week before your wedding, a simple wedding checklist will ensure you’ve got it all covered.

Tracking your progress is so satisfying.  

Checking a task off your list is such a great feeling, and online wedding checklists make it so simple. You can also easily see how many tasks you have completed and how many have yet to finish, helping you track your progress in an easily-accessible way. You can even quickly see a list of all of the tasks you’ve completed for that extra dose of wedding-planning satisfaction.

You can share it.

Whether you and your partner are handling the bulk of wedding planning yourselves, or you’ve enlisted the help of family members, friends, or a professional wedding planner, a simple wedding checklist can easily be downloaded or printed so it can be shared with your planning crew. You can easily delegate responsibilities (“Mom, you can handle all of the tasks relating to flowers.”) or simply keep your loved ones posted on your progress.   

How You Know You Found the One, Based on Zodiac Sign

By Whitney Teal

Sometimes it’s hard to know if you’ve found the person you can really build a life with. Depending on your astrological sign, here’s how you know you found the one.

Randy & Ashley Studios

Ask anyone in a serious relationship: love is one thing; lifelong partnership is a whole other thing. Once you know you’re in love, how do you know you’re ready to take the next step of commitment — whatever that means for you? Your zodiac sign just might have some answers. Scroll down and find your sign to see how you know you found the one, based on your astrological sign.



A proverbial spark of fire and a certified ball of energy and ideas, you are not one to chill, Aries. You love to juggle lots of responsibilities and creative pursuits, so a day of relaxing is genuinely cringe-worthy for you. When you’d rather Netflix and chill with your boo instead of attending to your to-do list, you’ve found a real keeper.


For cash-hungry Taurus, how you know you found the one is easy to answer. Naturally frugal and enterprise-minded, but decadent, a Taurus cares a lot about money. (How else do you purchase luxury goods and lavish vacations?) When you’re ready share a bit of your wealth and combine finances, you’ve found your forever bae, Taurus.


Your dualistic nature and ability to empathize with other perspectives may be a commendable personality trait, but it doesn’t make you the most dependable person, Gemini. Although your heart’s always in the right place, your brain is so full of ideas that it can be difficult for you to follow-through on long projects. When you meet someone who can help you commit to something big—like buying a home or taking care of a pet—and stick to it, don’t let them get away!


As a sensitive and emotional sign, home means a lot to you, Cancer. It’s your symbolic crab shell, a space you’ve carefully created to make sure you have a place to recharge and protect your personal energy. To let someone in on this sacred space is a huge deal to you, as you are notoriously private. When you get the feeling it’s time to put bae on your lease, that’s how you know you found the one.


Fiery, headstrong and totally at home being the center of attention, leadership suits you, Leo. After all, you’re ruled by the ultimate leader, the Sun, and represented by the king of the animal kingdom, the lion. So, when you’re willing to let your love decide where to vacation this summer or even which series to binge watch first this weekend, it’s time to take a pause and wonder if they’re the real deal for you.


Your sign represents fertility and the maternal instinct to tend to one’s symbolic gardens, so you’ve probably been ready to start a family since birth, Virgo. Although you may have been in love before, you’ve found the one when you know they’re the only person you can imagine co-parenting your future babies with.

Lisa Marie Figueroa Photography


Ruled by Venus, planet of love, you’re a sign that values romantic partnership as the ultimate personal balance, Libra. As a natural debater and righteous seeker of justice, one thing you can’t abide is an uninformed or unfair opinion, and you’ll tire anyone out in an argument that goes against your principles. When you’re willing to let bae win this round (even though you both know you’re right), that’s how you know you found the one.


Intense Scorpios are naturally steamy. The flirty, sultry Scorpio stereotype has deep roots in this sign’s association with the mythical underworld. The ultimate signal that a Scorpio has found the one is when you can happily picture a lifetime of monogamous hooking up.


Always on the move and forever searching for deeper meaning in life, you love to explore far-flung destinations, Sag. This can be hard for any partner to accept, let alone keep up with, unless they’re the travel-at-the-drop-of-a-hat type of person, too. So, when you find yourself booking trips for two because you can’t leave your love at home, you’ve definitely found your one.


Feelings aren’t your forte, Capricorn. You’re a hard-working earth sign whose love language is probably best represented through acts of service. In other words, what you can’t see, touch or physically de-construct doesn’t usually have a lot of value to you. But, you’re human. Occasionally, your feelings are hurt, you face a devastating loss or suffer a rejection. When you’re willing to cry and show bae this hidden side of you, that’s how you know you found the one.


You’re a tech nerd and always up on the latest apps and gadgets, which is no wonder since you’re ruled by the eleventh house of technology and teamwork, Aquarius. While some people write off social media as a narcissistic way to pass the time, you truly appreciate your virtual social circle and carefully curate your feed to only represent what you love. When you’re ready to show your love off to the Internets, watch out, because you’re probably in a forever relationship.


Pisces is the great romantic of the zodiac, always seeking or indulging in sweet, committed relationships. So, to answer how you know you found the one for this sign, you have to go deeper than just being in love. When you find yourself scribbling your signature with your partner’s last name or planning the family monogram because you’re ready to share a last name, it’s time to make it official.

23 Songs to Boost Your Mood While Wedding Planning

By Samantha Iacia

Tedious tasks, like stuffing invitation envelopes and arranging your seating chart, instantly become more fun with this list of the best songs to boost your mood.

Michelle Ramirez Photography

Let’s be real: There are going to be times when you’ll feel a little overwhelmed with your wedding to-dos, especially if you’ve recently had to change your plans or are struggling to balance wedding planning between work, free time, and all of your other responsibilities. So we compiled a playlist of the best songs to boost your mood and put a smile on your face, no matter what you’re going through—play them to remind yourself to feel excited (not stressed!) about the big day anytime you need a pick-me-up. 

Squash that wedding planning anxiety and lift your spirits by listening to our favorite songs to boost your mood. 

“Whenever, Wherever” by Shakira

This early 2000s bop will get you out of a funk in no time. Blast it and dance like no one’s watching for an instant mood boost. 

“Golden” by Harry Styles

Play this song when you first wake up in the morning to immediately put yourself in a feel-good mood. “Golden” reminds us of summertime and sunshine—what more could you want? 

“Honey” by Kehlani

Acoustic songs can put you in a great mood, too! Listen to “Honey” anytime you want three minutes and 28 seconds of chilled-out bliss. 

“You’ve Got the Love” by Florence + The Machine

There are a number of different covers of this ’90s song, but this version by Florence + The Machine always stands out. It’s perfect for a dance break or if you’re in the mood to belt out the lyrics at the top of your lungs. You might recognize “You’ve Got the Love” from Sex and the City or Gossip Girl—it was featured in both series finales. 

“I Believe” by Jonas Brothers

When the JoBros released their comeback album in 2019, it did not disappoint. The lyrics of this catchy song are about meeting that one person you can’t live without. Now that all three brothers are happily married, we think we can expect a lot more tracks like this sweet song, and we’re not mad about it. 

“First Love” by Jennifer Lopez

This song is about finally finding The One who loves everything about you—even if you’re just wearing jeans and a t-shirt, as JLo says. It’s so catchy that it you’ll want to play it on repeat. 

“Blinding Lights” by The Weeknd

It’s the song that has inspired a million TikTok dances while we’re all social distancing. Chances are you’ve already heard the opening beats of “Blinding Lights”, but the entire toe-tapping song is like an old-school ’80s pop hit (and we mean that in the best way possible). Just try to resist dancing along—we dare you!

“Good Life” by OneRepublic

It’s been more than 10 years since OneRepublic released their song “Good Life,” but it’s still one of the best songs to boost your mood and make you smile. The lyrics remind us that even when our days are crazy, there’s so much to be thankful for.

“Everywhere” by Fleetwood Mac

From the ’80s synthesizers to the sweet, straightforward lyrics about love (‘I want to be with you everywhere’), you can’t resist smiling when this song comes on.

“Billion” by Mat Kearney

Mat Kearney summed up the feeling of meeting your soulmate with the lyrics of this song: ‘Seven billion in the world, baby / I only wanna be with you / I don’t want another girl, baby / I only wanna be with you.’ What’s even sweeter is that he wrote it for his wife, Annie (who’s also featured on his album cover). Excuse us, we have something in our eye.

“You Are the Sunshine of My Life” by Stevie Wonder

We couldn’t make a playlist of songs to boost your mood without including this classic Stevie Wonder hit. “You Are the Sunshine of My Life” is a hugely popular first dance song, but it’s also an uplifting tune to play anytime you need to brighten your day.

“Lover” by Taylor Swift

Find your partner and grab them for an impromptu slow dance to this song. The lyrics for “Lover” are all about finally meeting the one you never want to leave: ‘Can I go where you go? / Can we always be this close, forever and ever? /  And ah, take me out, and take me home / You’re my, my, my, my lover.’

“Good Day Sunshine” by The Beatles

We can always count on The Beatles to give us some musical cheer. “Good Day Sunshine” is one of their most underrated songs—it’s so good it will make you feel like you’re on a sunny walk at the beach, even on the rainiest of days.

“XO” by Beyonce

This iconic Queen Bey song always puts us in a good mood. The lyrics are all about living in the moment and loving to the fullest, which is a message we can all relate to. 

“Love You For a Long Time” by Maggie Rogers

With it’s folk-y acoustic vibes, “Love You For a Long Time” makes us want to jump in the car and go for a road trip. Maggie Rogers sums up the feeling of falling completely head-over-heels with the lyrics: ‘Oh, I never knew it, yeah, you took me by surprise / While I was getting lost so deep inside your diamond eyes / So many things that I still wanna say / And if devotion is a river, then I’m floating away.’

“Black and White” by Niall Horan

We’re calling it now: this could be one of the next big wedding songs. “Black and White” from Niall Horan’s second album is a sweet, upbeat tune about picturing the rest of your life from someone. Cue our happy tears.

“The Way You Love Me” by Faith Hill

This throwback country song is an instant-mood booster, especially if you know the lyrics to sing along.

“Juice” by Lizzo

Bring on the feel-good vibes. Lizzo is our self-empowerment hero, and this song will make you feel like you can tackle your wedding planning list like it’s no big deal at all.

“Carry Me Away” by John Mayer

This John Mayer track is more mellow, but that’s exactly why we love it. “Carry Me Away” is one of the best songs to boost your mood if you’re feeling stressed and need to relax—it’s so soothing you’ll want to play it on repeat in the background all day long.

“Levitating” by Dua Lipa

Not only is this catchy pop song a fun addition to your wedding planning playlist, but we think it would be great to play during your reception to get everyone on the dance floor

“Butterflies” by Kasey Musgraves

Dedicate this one to your S.O. “Butterflies” is a beautiful song about being with the one who loves you for exactly who you are. 

“10,000 Hours” by Dan + Shay ft. Justin Bieber

This sentimental pop-country song was written for the the singers’ wives—and they’re all featured in the music video. What could be sweeter than that? 

“Everything” by Ella Mai ft. John Legend

Send this R&B song to bae to let them know how much they mean to you. You know a song is going to be a hit when John Legend is involved, but Ella Mai’s voice and lyrics are worth the listen alone.