Category Archives: Marriage

Forever Love

Danina and Preston Seal it with a Kiss! Photo by Jessica Lubert Photography

Danina and Preston -Sealed with a Kiss! Photo by Jessica Lubert.

When I fall in love, it will be forever. Sung by Nat King Cole.

There was a chill in the air as I arrived at the barn that morning. It was a gorgeous, mid September day and the field of sunflowers was awash in color. I always get goosebumps when I arrive on the scene of a wedding and this one was no exception.

My daughter and I got to work, unstacking fancy chairs and putting the pads on them. By the time we were done, the linens had arrived and so had the rest of the staff. A big truck loaded with all the decor pulled up to the barn doors. It was time to set the tables.

There were so many beautiful details about Danina and Preston’s wedding I could go on and on. I’m going to save a few for a post later on my events blog. Instead, I want to tell you about the grace on this day.

Family members gave their heirloom china to display on the tables. Can you imagine rows of place settings and no two the same placed next to each other? Wow. And the father of the bride, Sam, did the flowers on the tables. He took his time and used many of the milk glass vases that Danina had gathered over the few months before the big day.

Table Settings and Sunflowers. Photo by Jessica Lubert.

Table Settings and Sunflowers. Photo by Jessica Lubert.

I had asked Danina beforehand what she was going to carry for flowers. She wasn’t concerned about it and told me that she’d probably just hold whatever was available (this is a low key bride!). Now for some reason before I left home that morning, I grabbed floral wire and a few other tools. I also picked some herbs from my garden- lavender, mint, basil, and a few flowers. I put them in a small mason jar. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with them but I took them anyway.

About an hour before the wedding ceremony, Michelene fashioned Danina a beautiful bouquet of sunflowers and tied it with ribbon. For the groom, best man, and officiant I created a quick boutonniere of herbs and flowers. Later I saw that someone had placed a small sunflower in the mens’ lapels along with my herbs- perfect. 🙂 And what a blessing to be able to contribute something of my own to this beautiful day.

October 8, 2015- I just published more pictures of this wedding on my events IDEAs! page! Click HERE to see them!

Here’s a few more photos of this wonderful day! Best wishes to Danina and Preston! Many thanks to my assistants- Michelene Cain and Jessica Lubert .

No Assigned Seating! Photography by Jessica Lubert.

No Assigned Seating! Photography by Jessica Lubert.

Waiting for the Guests...and Dinner! Photography by Jessica Lubert.

Waiting for the Guests…and Dinner! Photography by Jessica Lubert.

Hahaha! Photography by Jessica Lubert.

Hahaha! Photography by Jessica Lubert.

This Picture Makes Me Cry. Photography by Jessica Lubert.

Commitment in their own words. This Picture Makes Me Cry. Photography by Jessica Lubert.

 

 

 

The Sweetheart Table. Photography by Jessica Lubert.

The Sweetheart Table. Photography by Jessica Lubert.

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Love and Marriage

Looking pretty spiffy at the FOCUS fundraiser

Looking pretty spiffy at the FOCUS fundraiser

“If I get married, I want to be very married.”
Audrey Hepburn

I love to hear Jim tell the story of how we met. When people ask, he tells it like this. “I was at the VIP in Baden (a disco) and looked across the room. I saw this beautiful woman, sitting at a table full of dirty glasses and I could have heard a pin drop. I said to my friend Jeff, I am going to marry that girl.”

If you believe in love ever after, then I have to say you are in good company. Jim and I are coming up on thirty four years of marriage. He still thinks I am a size five. I am one lucky girl.

I could tell you it has all been wine and roses but that would not be the truth. Anyone who has been in a long term relationship will say HA! to that. It’s true. We have been through our share of thick and thin.

At the start of our marriage, Jim switched careers and went to nursing school (a good move). We had children young (never regretted, also a good move). I started a gourment coffee business, then a major competitor came to town (bummer). We remodeled our house a couple of times. We got a dog, chickens, bees, and a grandson (awesome stuff).

Jim is my biggest cheerleader. He is always behind me; game for almost anything I have a desire to do. He also pushes me to do things I don’t always want to do- like looking at the reality of situations. Or asking me what my motivation is behind doing the things I want to do. When I’m upset about something small, he reminds me I have bigger fish to fry.

If I could describe Jim in a few words it would be “easy does it.” I bought him a license plate for the front of his truck that actually says this, because it is true. He will rarely get fluffed about anything and when he does, he tends to only tell people he really trusts. He isn’t a blabber mouth. He is a man of few words but those words are either hilariously funny or seriously wisdom filled.

I am thankful that God brought Jim and I together. Sometimes when I am troubled, I get up so close to him that he probably cannot breathe. I can feel my heart beat slower and more confidently, just because he is near me. I can hug him for a long time and he will let me.

If I could give advice to any newly married couple it would be this. You cannot be selfish when you are married. In order to have a loving, serious relationship, you have to be unselfish. And you have to have respect for your partner, no matter what. You can disagree, have different opinions, but you have to love and respect them for who they are. 

Jim and I work on our marriage. We spend time together and make dates when we know that we have been too busy. Our friends are a huge part of our life. We have separate hobbies but we also love many things mutually- good food, family, and outdoor spaces.

How blessed I have been. Happy Valentine’s Day Jim!

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The Differences Between Us

Jim and I in beautiful Nantucket, Fall of 2016

The relationship of husband and wife should be one of closest friends. B.A. Ambedkar

*This post has been so popular I updated it a bit on February 13, 2017

Jim and I will be married 36 years this coming May. The picture above is one of my new favorites, snapped in Nantucket during time away last fall. Though we’ve been married that long, my husband and I are often like night and day. Oil and vinegar. Fire and water. But somehow, it works. We work. We are still a work in progress.

This is a good example of our differences. When I am driving, I anticipate when I will need to get off at an exit. Usually I move over into the correct lane way ahead of time, probably 1-2 miles before. I don’t have to worry about crossing over large amounts of traffic or missing the exit. I like to play it safe.

Jim will be in the same situation and he will not worry about moving over until he is a half mile from the exit. He will need to cross over two lanes of traffic but so what? Even if someone won’t let him by, he will get over somehow. (and he will complain about the guy that didn’t let him over!)

This kind of stuff used to drive me crazy. But if you’ve been married a long time you know. You choose your battles and ask yourself “how important is it?”

Jim has a counter top in the kitchen where he puts all of his stuff. Papers, pencils, change, you name it. I have my stuff concealed in drawers and desks. His counter top used to drive me nuts. It doesn’t anymore. I hardly notice it.

His garage is the same way. A clutter. But he and his brothers can usually find what they are looking for. I’d love to go and organize it for them but I bet they’d have a meltdown. How would they find anything?

I can just about figure out where Jim has been and what he has done in any given day by the trail he leaves behind. Candy wrappers, hammers, pliers. I have to admit I’m guilty of the same thing myself sometimes. It’s just easier to look at someone else’s mess and point the finger. 😉

I’m a taskmaster, an administrative guru. I have file folders for bills and a place for receipts. Jim can usually not find a crucial paper unless it’s on that cluttered counter. Years ago, he would ask me where I put it. Now he asks me if I’ve seen it.

Jim is really the cream in my coffee and the dots on my i’s. Though many years have passed and we have seen our share of good and bad, we are a team. I never think that he doesn’t love me; he adores me in fact and that love is what keeps us together.

It is worth the time and energy to make a relationship work. I love weddings and the thought of forever after. It takes two to tango though and that’s the truth. Thank you Jim, for the willingness to tango.

JimandJo

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I Got Married on Mother’s Day!

JimandJo2

My maternal grandparents had come from Stockdale, Pennsylvania. My godparents had arrived from Charleston, South Carolina.

The night before our wedding, my father and uncles roasted a lamb, Greek-style, on a spit in the back yard. My mom, aunts, and grandparents prepared spanakopita, stuffed grape leaves, greek salad with feta cheese and a host of other yummy dishes, and of course Greek cookies like finikia, baklava and diples. There was Greek music and line dancing in our big basement. (The Greeks really know how to get ready for a wedding. There is lots of merriment, dancing, eating, and drinking!)

I remember when I told my first boss, Bob at Heritage Floral, that I wanted to get married on Mother’s Day, May 10, 1981. He almost had a melt down! I forgot it was the biggest floral day of the year! Bob finally calmed down when I told him I wanted white silk roses in my bouquet and my bridesmaids’. Silk flowers were the big thing back then. There were real flowers on the reception tables of course and Bob did a spectacular job. Having silk flowers made it easier for Bob to do the bouquets ahead of time, a great time saver in this case!

Jim and Jo CrownsMy wedding was fabulous. Have you ever been to a Greek Orthodox wedding? It is very beautiful and symbolic. My favorite part is the exchanging of the crowns, or Stefana, which symbolizes the unity of the couple and presence of Christ who blesses and joins the couple. The Stefana are exchanged three times, back and forth, by the godparent and this symbolizes a sealing of the union. I still have my crowns to this day and actually had them framed; they are real beauties.

The reception was downstairs in our church hall. Family friends catered the dinner and I swear, everyone had a half chicken on their plate! Greek dancing began shortly after and during the first dance, my father showered us with dollar bills for good luck. My little cousins (who I thought would keep the money!) swept up all the change and bills and that is what we honestly used for spending money while on our honeymoon at Peak N’Peek resort.

The reason I wanted to get married on Mother’s Day was because it was exactly one year to the day that I met Jim. When I asked my priest, Father John, if it was ok to be married on Mother’s Day, he said yes. At our ceremony, I remember him saying it was a day to honor all women and was a fitting day for a wedding.

By the following year on my first anniversary, I was pregnant with my daughter Michelene. She as born on August 7, 1982. My son John came a few years later on January 9, 1986.

The significance of Mother’s Day as a wedding day has never been lost on me. I love being a mother to two beautiful kids and a grandmother to Gavin. I have been blessed with a great husband who has been willing to do the hard work of staying together. It has not always been easy but we have persisted through the good times and the not so good.

I believe the secret to a long relationship is respect. And a dedication to love and cherish the other person, no matter what. Being a mom is just the bonus to a good marriage.

JimandJo

Happy Mother’s Day to you, my beloved friend! Have a wonderful day!

 

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What Speaks of Love?

The Bonfire

“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” ― Mother Teresa

I was loading socks into Jim’s dresser drawer when I remembered a moment in time. It was a flashback to a conversation between Jim and our close friend John.

Jim had asked John what act of his wife’s spoke of love? John thought for a moment and said “The smell of dinner when I drive up my driveway! That spells LOVE to me!”, said John in his big, beautiful voice. I braced myself for what Jim would say. “A drawer full of socks, John. I love when I open my drawer and see it full of socks.”

Since then I have remembered what filling up that sock drawer means to Jim. It speaks of my love for him. It took me only a moment (and thirty years of marriage) to realize how much he appreciated it.

What does Jim do for me that I love? He builds great campfires. He sets up the logs in a nice, stacked fashion, utilizes newspaper strategically, and sometimes even gets creative with a few charcoal briquets just to get things going.

I once told Jim that his fires “flickered in all the right places.” He loved that and says it’s one of the nicest things I have ever said to him.

When I think about it, it’s really those little things that sometimes mean the most. I try and pay attention to what I do for the special people in my life- my kids, my mom, my grandson, my family, my friends. Thoughtful and kind acts are not necessarily about great or expensive gifts. Meaningful acts of loving kindness can be simple and sweet, inexpensive and lovely.

I like to take my mother a mason jar of flowers from my yard when I visit her. Or, I take her something special from the farmer’s market- those little zucchini, an eggplant or some fresh green beans. I know how much she likes those kinds of things.

This weekend, I hope someone does something special for you and vice versa. Have a great holiday!

Does someone you know do something especially kind for you? Or do you have a great memory of a parent or loved one from your past? Here’s your chance to share it with us and give us some good ideas!

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Realizing the Dream

Jess and Jake's wedding

Jess and Jake’s wedding

A dream is a wish your heart makes….Cinderella

The beautiful couple above really started the whole thing. Meet Jess and Jake. Their barn wedding took place on a lush farm about an hour from the city of Pittsburgh a few years ago.

I had been working for a religious institution planning and organizing programming and events, including weddings. Though it was interesting, I longed to be there for the actual unfolding, something that was not required of me in my job.

So when I heard Jess and Jake were getting married, I asked them if I could supervise their wedding. Thankfully, they said yes.

Jess and I met a few times to go over details. I went early to the farm on the day of the wedding and made sure the set up was accurate. I timed the bridesmaids walking down the lawn. I stuck around all night to insure everything was taken care of. I was in charge of paying the vendors and I also made sure all the gifts and cards were put in a safe place.

When Jess and Jake returned from their honeymoon, we went out to dinner. They gave me a present, a plaque with a poem titled “Those Who Serve.” It was absolutely beautiful.

The owner of the farm was watching me the night of the wedding. She offered me a part time summer job. The next year, I did six or so weddings at three different farm locations. The outdoor wedding bug bit me hard. I fell in love with barn weddings.

And I still love weddings, all kinds. Whether they are Orthodox, Jewish, Catholic, Methodist, indoor, outdoor- I love them. Maybe it’s because I believe in the “Happily Ever After” or maybe it’s because I just love that moment in time, when two people decide to join together and make a commitment to each other. I love all the families being there, wishing them well. I could go on and on….

So I began to think about starting my own business, planning weddings and special events. When my mom fell ill and I quit my full time job, that dream came closer and closer. I talked it over with a few people and decided to go for it. Business cards were made, a few “Partners” said YES!, and my event planning website went “LIVE” last week. (Hang on, I’m going to share the link with you at the bottom of this post!)

This leap of faith I am taking is inspired by grace. Instead of feeling fear, I feel an inspiration to give this long desired dream a chance. I pray that I will again be led in a divine direction, to go where people may need me most. The people I have met already who want to be a part of my new business are well, just heaven sent.

So tonight, raise a glass and please make a toast to my new business, Katherine’s Daughter Events. Your blessing and your prayers will mean more to me than anything else. After all, this is a joint project. You are part of my life.

Check out my new website HERE!

What’s your most unforgettable moment from your wedding, or a wedding you’ve been to recently?

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Lena and Andrew

Lena and Andrew

Lena and Andrew

I had the honor of assisting at a beautiful wedding last weekend. Lena and Andrew were married in my church and there were many of us there to witness this blessed event.

As God would have it, I bumped into my friend Rita and her daughter a few months ago in a home decorating store. “Lena is getting married!” said Rita and I couldn’t help but mention that I have done detail work on many wedding ceremonies and other types of events. 🙂

Lo and behold the phone rang one day and it was Rita. She felt fine about the reception but was nervous about the wedding ceremony. Would I assist at the church? I didn’t even hesitate. “Yes, of course!” was my answer.

We met to go over the details, then time quickly flew by. Soon enough it was rehearsal then, wedding time! The bridal couple was a youthful example of shining love…like a beacon that Hands Twowarmed and reminded us of our own days gone by. Lena and Andrew were a lovely couple and a bit old fashioned (which I loved!). They did not want to see each other before the ceremony! No pictures together….just one intimate moment in which they grasped hands from around a corner, while photographers snapped away, capturing the moment.

Instead of a choir, Lena and Andrew wanted cantors. I wondered how this would unfold and I have to say it took my breath away when the bride and her father walked down the aisle, to a heavenly host of voices singing from the front altar. It felt very traditional and different all at the same time!

As the guests sprinkled the newly married couple with white rose petals, I felt blessed to be part of such a beautiful event. There is that moment of satisfaction when you know that everything came together the way it should be, for a couple who are loved and wished all the best.

Do you have a favorite memory of a blessed event? Share it with me!

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Love Is Like A Rock

I’ve been staying at my mom’s on and off during her recovery. Recently, we watched the movie “Hope Springs” together. Have you seen it? The movie stars Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones in a marriage gone stale. It was quite the interesting story if you ask me.

Without giving too much away, Meryl Streep decides after 31 years of marriage (and separate bedrooms), she wants more. Tired of no intimacy and the same routine day in and day out, she decides to challenge the status quo and sign up for a marriage enrichment program in a town called Hope Springs. Her husband says he is not going, blah blah blah, but (much to Meryl’s delight) he shows up for the plane departure.

Husband Tommy has plenty of money but they stay at the EconoLodge. He sleeps on the pull out couch while Meryl sleeps in the bed. The poor psychologist has his work cut out for himself as Tommy flings verbal hatred at him. But I know what’s really going on. Poor ol’ Tommy is in deep seated fear. Fear of change. Fear of feeling real love.

I know there are many troubled marriages and relationships in the world. I’m sure this movie caused some people to squirm in their seats. I am one of the lucky ones. I felt no uncomfortable-ness. I “hoped” for them and the repair of their marriage.

My Favorite Picture of Jim and I! Taken by my sister, Cally Jamis Vennare

My Favorite Picture of Jim and Me! Taken by my sister, Cally Jamis Vennare

Jim and I certainly do not have the perfect relationship. We are only human and only God is perfect. We do however, have the “tools in our toolbox” to work most issues out. And we have had some big issues in the nearly 33 years of being together.

As any couple in a long term relationship will tell you, it is not about who is squeezing the toothpaste tube from the bottom or who makes the bed better. A couple who has been together for a while knows how to pick their battles. The real secret to relationship happiness, I’ve come to believe, is not to lose yourself in the process.

Though my marriage has been through many ups and downs over the years, there was a period about seven years ago when I finally became comfortable with who I was. At that point, my unreasonable expectations of Jim fell away. I was responsible for myself and he was stuck loving me the way I was. Thankfully, he loves me as I am. And I love him for who he is.

I believe this unconditional love is the secret to happiness…in anything. Point my finger, tell you how to do it better and I make you miserable. Focus on myself and what my needs are and my life becomes my responsibility. Focusing on what my husband may or may not be doing is not the answer. Loving him for who he realistically is….this is the secret to a happy marriage.

When my mom was ill in the hospital this past winter, Jim was my rock. He endured my tears, fears, tantrums and joys. He was there every step of the way. I called him My Rock on numerous occasions and I still believe this. Without him to lean on, I would have been lost.

On May 10, Jim and I were married 32 years. May you be blessed to have (or to have had) someone in your life, spouse or likewise, who means as much to you. I believe in my heart we are all worthy of unconditional love, not only from others but especially from the God of our own understanding.

Welcome Daily Prompt Readers! Is there someone in your life who is your rock? It doesn’t have to be a spouse! Who can you be yourself with but yet lean on in times of stress?

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