With all of our focus on how to make your wedding special, we thought it was time to highlight some ways to make your marriage awesome, too. Introducing “Snapshot of a Marriage,” a series from contributor Emily Westbrooks, who interviews couples on some of their secrets for a strong and successful marriage.

When Stacy and Rob decided to get married, they were met with some “discouraging words,” as they put it. Rob had finished college, but Stacy was three years younger and had decided not to finish. “My parents tried very hard to talk us out of it.” But despite her parents’ objections, Stacy and Rob were married and almost immediately packed their things and moved hundreds of miles away so Rob could start a new job.

Thirty-one years later, those discouraging words are only a distant memory. But that doesn’t mean Stacy and Rob didn’t learn a few lessons along the way. When they began their married life together, Stacy and Rob had very little money. So little that Stacy recalls pulling off of the highway on their drive to avoid a fifty-cent toll. Says Stacy, “Our first home didn’t have a television or even a couch at first. We had one car, so I would walk to the library and back.” Stacy hadn’t yet found work, and says she often felt stuck at home while Rob was out at work all day, like their balance was off. But she quickly learned, “You have to go out there and make that balance.”

Over the years, Stacy and Rob have learned how to adjust to the shifting balance in their relationship. In the 1980’s, Rob was laid off from his job and the couple decided to sell their house and car and pack up for graduate school. With two small children in tow, Rob and Stacy tried to adjust the balance. “We had decided early on that one parent would stay at home with the kids,” they say. That decision wasn’t always easy, but Stacy says they learned that “rather than try to fight your decision, you can make friends with your decision and figure out systems that work for you.” The couple decided Rob would be home every night for dinner and to bathe at least one of the kids, even if it meant he had to return to the library later.

Seven moves and thirty-one years later, the two are enjoying spending time with each other in the same place. They work out in the yard, go for long walks and take yoga classes together. Their advice to newlyweds? Rob suggests remembering this mantra: “Marriage is work and it’s teamwork – remember you’re on the same team.”

SNAPSHOT SUBMISSIONS  Do you know a married couple whose relationship you admire? Or maybe you’re married and want to share your words of wisdom! We’re now accepting submissions from couples who have been married for ten years or longer. Email Emily at emily@fromchinavillage.com with your first names, how long you’ve been married, and a few sentences about why you’d like to be interviewed for our Snapshot of a Marriage series.
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Sponsored Post


Let me introduce Desiree Spinner, who is not only a stylist and the woman behind La Petite Peach (an utterly adorable blog for stylish and selective moms and kids), but who also creates stunning weddings and events in New England. Here are a few of my favorite shots from her wedding portfolio…

By taking on just a handful of events each year, Desiree is able to devote her time to giving clients exactly what they want, ensuring that each event is totally personal and unique.

If you’re a New England bride looking for someone to help bring your dream wedding to life, look no further than Desiree Spinner. And if (like me) you’re ready to start thinking about all things baby, then be sure to check out La Petite Peach!


Scroll over images for photo credits.
This post sponsored by Desiree Spinner.

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Mood: floral romance
Palette: rose red, blush pink, cream

We’ve filled the last two weeks with chocolate, chocolate, chocolate (with more chocolate to come tomorrow!), but what’s Valentine’s Day without red roses? This week’s inspiration board incorporates that classic romantic flower, as well as sweet pink and red toile, for an ultra-feminine look that’s both girly and sophisticated. An indulgent theme, but with lots of crisp white, there’s no reason it has to look overdone. Need a suggestion for favors? I’m thinking mini bottles of the Daylesford rose Frizzante. And some chocolate…

Row 1: red skirt and muff by Ulyana Sergeenko / mini bottle of Daylseford Rose Frizzante / berry charlottes from Martha Stewart Weddings / pink toile wallpaper // Row 2: rose bridal hat and veil and calligraphy “cootie catcher” both from Martha Stewart Weddings / red rose bouquet from Country Home // Row 3: stack of pink gift boxes via This is Glamorous / bouquet of red garden roses from Martha Stewart Weddings / ballet pink flats by Manolo Blahnik / “Keep Me” card photo by The Curious Nomad via Design Crush // Row 4: red rose toile / calligraphy by Tara Jones / Valentine’s Day Menu by Cynthia Warren for Chez Panisse
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For this couple who met in kindergarten, a sweet wedding at the bride’s childhood home was just perfect. They chose a classic green and white color scheme for a balance of simplicity and sophistication…

Says the bride, “My favorite moment was seeing Cutler for the first time. We took photographs before the ceremony, and I loved having a moment alone with him before everything got started. Our dog, Walter, was there too (he served as ring bearer). Two hours later we would officially become our own little family.”

Liza’s bouquet included anemones, sweet peas, and seeded eucalyptus, and was adorned with her great-great-grandmother’s locket.

The guest book, made on MyPublisher.com, was a collection of favorite shots from the couple’s engagement session with Kate Murphy.

Many of the decorative elements were DIY projects, such as the escort card display (wine crates, stained and filled with styrofoam, covered with moss), table numbers (wood pieces, sanded and stained, with house numbers adhered on each side), and table runners (sage-colored burlap).

Centerpieces included a mix of terraria, round vases, and small glass cylinders filled with miniature orchids, succulents, golden moss, seeded eucalyptus, dusty miller, fennel, rosemary, hydrangea, anemones, hypericum berries and fennel.

The cake was a cream cheese pound cake with cream cheese frosting.

Why did you choose this location for your wedding?  The location and timing of the wedding were a nod to my parents. They got married in April 1983 and moved into the house where the wedding was held in April 1986, while my mother was pregnant with me, and we got married there in April of 2012. I wanted our ceremony and reception to be really personal, and there isn’t a place in the world that feels more personal to me than the house where I grew up.

What inspired you when you were planning your wedding?  I had been cutting images out of magazines for years and had a very clear idea of the look I wanted to achieve. I wanted the wedding to feel classic and sophisticated, but relaxed and comfortable at the same time. I wanted the décor to be very natural and botanical, not forced or complicated. A color palette of ivories, browns, grays and greens worked perfectly to complement the lush, mature landscaping of my parents’ yard. Cutler and I essentially wanted the day to feel like a big, beautiful, outdoor dinner party.

What was the best advice you received as a bride?  Make sure to hire vendors that you trust and that share your vision. Joan, my florist, was fantastic and created arrangements that were even more beautiful than I had imagined. Monica, my caterer, was also an invaluable resource. We didn’t even do a food tasting before the wedding because we knew dinner would be delicious (and it was). I love Kate Murphy’s photography, and I was confident that she would capture the day without much direction from me. I was able to relax on my wedding day, knowing that everything would be taken care of.

What advice do you have for other brides?  Do as much as you can as far in advance as possible, especially if you plan to take on DIY projects. I chose to create a lot of elements myself, and I made sure to complete all the projects as early as I could. I didn’t want to be assembling programs and favors at the last minute! In fact, I had very little left to do by the time wedding week rolled around.

Do you have any budget tips for other brides?  Sometimes simpler is better. Trust your gut, and don’t let people convince you to include elements that you don’t necessarily want. We initially talked about transitioning the ceremony space into a lounge area for the reception, but realized halfway through the process that it wasn’t important to us. We didn’t have a groom’s cake because Cutler doesn’t love cake. Concentrate on the elements that mean the most to you and prioritize accordingly.

Is there anything else that helps tell the story of the day?  Cutler and I met in kindergarten in Nashville. We went to school together through eighth grade, and then to brother-sister high schools. We began dating our senior year. We maintained a long distance relationship all through college, he at Tulane and I at the University of Virginia. It was tough being apart for the better part of four years, but it made moving back to Nashville after graduation all the sweeter. We were engaged three years later and married eight months after that. The wedding was in my parents’ back yard, at the same house where Cutler picked me up for our first date (and many after that).


See more images from Liza and Cutler’s classic at-home wedding in the gallery.

Photographer: Kate Murphy Photography / Venue: private residence in Nashville, Tennessee / Day-of Coordinator: James Darrell Brown / Bride’s Dress, Sash: Augusta Jones purchased at The Bride Room / Bride’s Shoes: Kate Spade / Hair Stylist: Jordan Byers of Salon N’Fuse / Makeup: Amy of Woo Skincare and Cosmetics / Groom’s Suit: Jos. A. Bank / Groom’s Custom Tie: Otis James / Bridesmaid Dresses: J. Crew “Arabelle” / Invitations, Programs, Calligraphy: purchased at The Paper Place / Floral Designer, Grapevine Lanterns: Joan Presley at Geny’s / Rentals: Liberty Party Rental, Music City Tents and Events / Lighting: Nashville Event Lighting / Ceremony Music: student string quartet from Blair School of Music / Reception Band: The Atlanta Allstars booked through Prime Source Entertainment / Catering: Monica Holmes at The Clean Plate Club / Cake: Dessert Designs by Leland Riggin / Silver and Horn Cake Platter and Servers: Ben Caldwell / Dog’s Custom Bow Tie Collar: Silly Buddy / Getaway Car: Grand Avenue
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Last week I introduced you to Matthew Robbins’ Inspired Weddings, a delicious book full of beautiful wedding and event inspiration. In each chapter, Matthew Robbins transforms the simplest item into an entire event, drawing inspiration from the item’s color, texture, purpose… This week, a sneak peek at details inspired by a vintage Schoolhouse Map. 

Here, some of the items that Matthew used to bring his map-inspired vision to life.

I love how a single map can inspire so much, from incorporating maps literally, to a color palette, to a cake from across the world.

More sneak peeks throughout the month of February, or you can purchase your very own copy from AnthropologieAmazon, or Barnes & Noble.


Design: Matthew Robbins / Photography: Thuss+Farrell
Map tags by Gifts for the Good Life

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