May 25th, 2017
Making Marriage Work: Q&A with Stephanie McKenzie of The Relationship Firm
 

Stephanie McKenzie, founder of The Relationship Firm, has been a life coach of sorts since she was a teenager. “The first person I provided life coaching to was my godmother. She was getting divorced, and I was absolutely livid. I was 13 and I kept reminding her of the tenets of marriage,” Mckenzie says.

Stephanie-Mckenzie

Photo: Courtesy of The Relationship Firm

She won’t go as far as to say that divorce is never an option, but she will tell you, straight up, that it’s a very last option. As a certified life coach, who offers counseling for couples in any stage of the game, she believes that couples who are willing to fight for their marriage will always have a chance of making it. To her, that fight starts when a to-be-wed says, “Yes.”

We talked with Stephanie about what engaged couples can learn from marriage counseling, and the importance of talking about the things that might make you squirm, and we learned a bit about the coach herself. Take a look!

Houston Wedding Blog: How did you get into this industry?

Stephanie McKenzie: It was a really well planned accident. This was not what I was doing with my life, but I had done it my whole life unofficially. I was working in marketing and started working with a dating site. I thought it would be great to offer relationship education. So I went and got certified and started building a brand via social media.

HWB: What has shaped your opinion on marriage?

SM: My parents are divorced and have been since I was about two years old. Yet, I was never engaged in the conflict—they remained friends. As I got older and developed more of a spiritual understanding, I realized how beautiful it can be when two people come together and want to share their life. It requires an understanding of something greater than ourselves, no matter what you call it. Marriage really is a divine union and can be amazing if you do it right.

Civic-Photos-Engagement-1

Photo: Civic Photos

HWB: What are the most common problems—or potential problems—you see when you work with engaged couples?

SM: I see them being very idealistic about what marriage is, thinking that they have arrived and achieved, once they say, “I do.” The wedding is just one day. It is supposed to be a celebration, but couples shouldn’t let it get bigger than the marriage, to the point where they are spending plenty of cash, but are bankrupting their marriage with the stress and the tension. Anyone can get married, but I am talking about staying married.

A lot of the time couples just haven’t talked about anything, or they haven’t talked things through to the point of resolution. And I don’t just mean talking about having kids or where they are going to live, but also money, sex, and deal-breakers, which we call “no-no’s.”

HWB: What are your no-no’s?

SM: No-no’s are always determined by the couple, but if someone asked me for my deal-breakers, they would be physical and emotional abuse. I hate divorce, but sometimes when you can’t get what you need from a partner, and are being degraded and berated, something has to change. I would also add consistent disrespect by thought, word or deed. At some point everyone does something that is disrespectful, but maybe they didn’t think it through. After you tell someone what you expect and come to a resolution, and they continue to show these behaviors, then that’s a huge problem.

HWB: What advice do you have for couples for not letting the wedding get bigger than the marriage?

SM: Elope… I’m kidding. I recommend that they craft a ritual to stay grounded. Make every Thursday night massage night, or every Saturday morning go on a walk or a run, and don’t talk about the wedding.

Also, take away the expectation of perfection. It should be a beautiful day, and not a stressful day where mistakes are not welcome. You are both fallible, and if you are going to have a life together, mistakes are going to happen.

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Photo: Serendipty Photography

HWB: What are some of the biggest points of contention you recommend couples talk through before their wedding?

SM: Learning how to handle conflict in a healthy way is huge. People often have the mistaken notion that when there’s conflict, it is terminal. We can grow to love and have a greater understanding for our spouse if we handle conflict correctly. Not dealing with conflict can be like dripping water on a rock. It just keeps dripping until it erodes the rock. You might call it the Grand Canyon.

Also, for many couples, sex comes as an assumption, but it is something you should discuss. It is very easy once you’re married for life to take over. Your friendship and your physical intimacy with your spouse are so important. Your union with your spouse should be your priority; don’t let your marriage be a casualty of your life.

HWB: OK, so we’ve talked about sex and conflict? What about the other taboo: money?

SM: Regarding finances, my cardinal rule to couples is to figure out what works, and don’t tell anybody outside of your relationship. People have visceral reactions to how other people handle their money. At the end of the day if you want to have a joint account, great. If you want separate accounts, that’s great too. Just don’t tell anybody. Everyone is going to have an opinion and it will make you doubt the decision you made with your spouse—the only other person who has skin in the game.

Adam-Nyholt-Engagement-1

Photo: Adam Nyholt

HWB: What is the benefit about discussing all of this before the wedding?

SM: I always liken it to weight loss. You can lose 10 pounds or you can lose 100 pounds. What’s easier? If we are coming in and taking the bull by the horns from the beginning, it’s easier to be beholden to the values that brought the couple together, not the values that are breaking them.

I am working with a couple that I also worked with during their premarital coaching session, and the same issues are cropping up. I do feel that they will be more successful because at a certain point they knew that they had to call me, or another unbiased party who could help. It takes a humble person to say that. I feel like those couples who say, “We need help with this and want to be our best selves and our best love,”—those are the couples that last.

Visit The Relationship Firm here, and contact Stephanie McKenzie to schedule your pre-marriage coaching session. You’ll be glad you did!

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May 24th, 2017
Venues We Love: The Lyceum of Galveston Island
 

The other day, we were sitting around the ol’ HWB editorial table, pretending our Diet Cokes were Prosecco (again) and shooing Bella Boo away from our snacks, when our talk turned to historical wedding venues. We get so many inquiries from Houston wedding couples who want to do their “I do’s” in a bona-fide landmark, so over the years, we’ve done tons of research, scoured the region, and turned up restored movie houses, repurposed bank buildings and former famed breweries—all now being used to house some of the region’s most gorgeous weddings.

And that’s how we lit upon the Lyceum. While this amazing venue’s full name—the Lyceum of Galveston Island—lets you know where it’s located, what it doesn’t let you know is how it came to be…or what a wedding there might be like. Which is where we come in. Check it out:

Lyceum-Exterior

Photo: Courtesy of The Lyceum of Galveston Island

The Lyceum has major historic cred. An official Galveston historic landmark, the original Lyceum was built in the 1840’s and served as a philosophical meeting center and entertainment venue for the Galveston Island community. In 1854, the First Lutheran Church of Galveston bought the building, and turned it into their worship center and the first public school in Galveston (students paid $1 per year for tuition).

As building design goes, it’s pretty much a knockout. A soaring square tower and steeple, a grand double-door entrance, floor-to-ceiling stained-glass windows—this seriously wow-inducing historic Galveston wedding venue ain’t messing around. And the choir loft, and fully equipped stage? Yeah, they pretty much make the Lyceum a slam-dunk for wedding setups.

Lyceum-Wedding-2 Lyceum

Photos: Courtesy of The Lyceum of Galveston Island

You can take advantage of the great outdoors. While the Lyceum’s interior is a major space, let’s not forget that this historic wedding venue also has a beautiful courtyard area, lush lawn and lovely gazebo—perf for catching a Gulf Coast breeze, and treating guests to a taste of island sunshine…or starshine.

Lyceum-Wedding-1

Photo: Courtesy of The Lyceum of Galveston Island

Now is a great time to visit the Lyceum and chat with venue manager Cynthia McEldowney about making your Galveston dream wedding a reality—and make sure to tell her “Hi!” from the Weddings in Houston crew!

Lyceum-Wedding-Civic-Photos

Photo: Civic Photos

And now…back to bubbles, Bella Boo…and working on our awesome brand-new Summer/Fall issue, on newsstands July 1!!

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May 23rd, 2017
The Cutest Wedding Flats We’ve Seen!
 

Let’s be honest—as much as we love and dream of super high heels for weddings, they’re not always as comfortable as we’d like them to be. That’s why our gals picked out wedding flats and one super adorable pair of low-heeled pumps that are great for both comfort and style. Shop through our faves below, and get ready to dance the night away!

1.  These ivory satin Jimmy Choo flats are great for the bride who loves a sleek, chic look with a hint of bling peeking out from beneath her wedding gown.

Jimmy Choo-Alina

 

2. Get ready to dazzle in Badgley Mischka’s showstopping “Gigi” bridal flat, featuring sparkling crystals and delicately scalloped edging. P.S. They’re available in ivory and a blushy-taupe shade that’s great for bridesmaids, too!

 

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3. A feminine hand-beaded flat? Yes, please! These Bella Belle flats are like modern-day glass slippers.

Bella Belle-Willow

4. Looking for closed-toe romantic heels with a touch of lace? Check out these 2-inch Bella Belle mesh pumps! The lace-up bow is just adorable.

Bella Belle-Amelia

 

5. Keds teamed up with Kate Spade and created cute sequin sneakers that can take you from your wedding day and beyond!

Kate-Spade-Glitter-Sneakers

 

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May 22nd, 2017
Blush, Coral & Gold Hill Country Wedding at The Terrace Club
 

Houston bride Vanessa and her groom, Luis, dreamed of a sunset wedding in Texas Hill Country, and just knew The Terrace Club would be the perfect location. “Our wedding day was a dream come true for us and our family,” says the bride. “We were so detailed in every aspect because we wanted it to be special, and The Terrace Club understood our vision.” Their Hill Country wedding was decidedly glam, complete with gold glitter accents, wine barrels topped with gold candelabras, and string lights leading out from the altar.

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Vanessa tells us that one of her favorite details about the outdoor ceremony decor were the blankets given as favors for the guests.

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“My most memorable moment was when we snuck off in the middle of the reception to take some pictures outside. Luis twirled me like a princess in my dress…it was like a scene straight from a fairytale,” Vanessa recounts.

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Congrats and best wishes to the newlyweds!

Photos: The Bird & The Bear Photography | Venue: The Terrace Club

 

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May 19th, 2017
Hugs & Donuts Named One Of The Top Doughnut Shops in Texas!
 

We’re crazy for doughnuts (aka donuts) here at Weddings in Houston—especially sweet, light-as-air, melt-in-your mouth doughnuts from Hugs & Donuts—which just happens to be named as one of the top doughnut shops in the state of Texas! That’s a BIG deal, and we’re honored to give them a shout out!

Hugs & Donuts

Photo: Hugs & Donuts

Looking for something sweet and unique for your wedding events? Hugs & Donuts creates custom doughnut wall displays, wedding guest welcome baskets, desserts for bridal showers and post-wedding brunches—’cuz who doesn’t love cookie butter, crème brûlée or tres leches donuts?! Check them out here, and treat yo self.

Hugs-and-Donuts

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