Balanced Telephone Strategy in New Relationships – Men and Women Can Both Call, Sometimes Wait for the Guy to Call First

In many new relationships these days, men and women are sharing the responsibility of calling their new love interest. Many couples are engaging in a balanced phone style and calling strategy. (photo courtesy of morgueFile.com)Modern couples tend to be taking a balanced telephone strategy in their new relationships. While many women may still prefer for the men to make the first call in a new relationship, they’re just as willing to carry on the communication once things get started.

Our readers were kind enough to share some thoughts on their own calling strategies in a new relationship. Here they explain how they feel about keeping a balanced telephone strategy in new relationships, and how they go about doing so. Read on to learn about a balanced telephone strategy in new relationships.

“I always like to wait for the first call when I meet somebody new.  I love talking on the phone so long calls are usually my style. After, the fist call I call maybe start calling twice a day but the calls last long in time. When there is no answer I usually I leave a message, or send a text. It really depends if I really need you now or later.”
– Julie Gutierrez, CA

“My calling strategy in a new relationship is to call once every couple of days.  Every day isn’t a problem as long as you keep the conversations brief and positive.  Once a day isn’t a problem if the conversations are not long and burdensome.  Call with a quick question or thought, and then play it by ear.  Listen to how the other person is responding and make sure to not drag it on longer than needed.  You don’t want to appear clingy.  You want to come off as confident enough to call, but independent enough to not to need to chat.”
– Lisa Pembleton, KS

“My calling strategy in a new relationship is I let them call me first but if a week goes by I pick up the phone and give them a quick shout, if no answer then I will leave a message and move on. My phone conversation style is if I am talking to one of my best buddies I will talk forever.”
– Tamara Bennington, FL

“I just recently started online dating about six month ago.  I prefer a guy to call me, but that is after doing a lot of chatting online and instant messaging.  After that initial contact, it basically depends on the guy I am communicating with…some like frequent updates and others would rather communicate all at once.   I would definitely leave a message if there is no answer.  It is just common courtesy.  As the relationship deepens the phone conversations seem to get longer and longer and the texts shorter.  And I am happy to say I now own a promise ring from a very special guy.”
– Katherine Frazier, OH

“Calling strategy in new relationship – It’s been so long I forget!!!! 🙂  In the past I normally wait for the guy to give me a call and then I will call him and text him every so often if I have a quick thing to share with him… as long as he texts me back and it’s not one sided. 🙂 I tend to have long  calls with friends or guys… sometimes I make quick calls if I just have to tell them something or ask a question… depends.”  🙂
– Jean Hallinan, NY

“I let him call first then I guess I would wait a day and call back.”
– Joan Olson, FL

“In a new relationship, my calling strategy is to wait and let “him” call so I don’t seem desperate. After we’re dating exclusively, I’ll call / text once a day to chat and leave a message if he’s out. To be honest, I’m not a ‘Chatty Kathy’ – I prefer quick calls!”
– Zara Riley Knox, NC

“I always went with my gut as far as when to call after meeting someone. I usually waited a couple days, if I didn’t hear from them, I would call. But only if I wanted to see them again. Sometimes I was happy that I didn’t get a call since I had no intention of continuing the relationship. When I was dating, there were no text messages. I usually would not leave a message. I would try again later and try to get the person at home.”
– Melanie Diehl, PA

“In a new relationship, I usually let the other person call me first once or twice and see what they say during those times.  That way, I’ll learn whether they like to talk and I need to set aside time for conversations or if they get straight to the point.  I don’t normally start opening up to people until I see whether I can trust them or not.  My calling style depends on whether I have time to talk or not.  If it’s someone I feel I can trust, I like to talk for a longer period of time.  If I don’t know the person at all, I usually get right to the point.”
– Donna Hunt, NJ

Many couples are engaging in a balanced phone style and calling strategy. (photo courtesy of morgueFile.com)“In a new relationship I let the guy call me, but once things get a little more serious I call at least once a day. If he can’t answer the phone I make sure to leave a message, something I know will make him smile when he hears it. I also don’t really text because it seems too impersonal and why spend 10 minutes on a text message you could have spoken in less than sixty seconds. My phone conversation style entails me calling when I need something for the most part or I just have quick message, which almost always turns into a really long conversation. Thank God for unlimited minutes.” 🙂
– Chelsea Daigle, LA

“When I first meet someone I’m interested in, I wait about a week then call and ask them how they’ve been and if they would like to go to lunch.”
– Joyce McAulay, MI

“I don’t call the man first.  Most men don’t like it.  I let him do most of the calling.  I like long conversations, but it really depends on the reason for the call.  It is also nice to have brief calls to let him know I am thinking about him if he likes that.”
– Donna Kozar, IN

“I call the day after a first date and I follow up two days later to see if the interest is still there. My phone conversation type is brief and to the point!”
– Richard Hicks, NC

“Calling strategy is to call on the fourth day following the first date. If I get voicemail, then I send a text once. And that’s it. If there’s no return contact then I move on. Life’s too short. If I make contact, the conversation is short. Don’t want to wear out the welcome. It probably lasts no more than 10 minutes. I’ll call once more after that, then the next call will be up to the other person.”
– Robin Bullock, CO

“I am old fashioned and initially wait for a man to call me. After he does and shows interest, I then feel free to call him whenever I wish. My talking style in a new relationship is to talk for a very long time about everything under the sun.”
– Denise Sachs, CO

Wedding Responsibilities and Duties of the Maid of Honor

So you are about to be the maid of honor in someone’s wedding? What an honor it is! You are the bride’s right-hand lady, and it is your honored and privileged responsibility to help ensure that her big day is as special as can be. As maid of honor, you’re sure to have your hands full with wedding duties and responsibilities to help the bride prepare for her special day.

So, as maid of honor, what exactly are your duties and responsibilities? Read on for the short and long of it! Depending on your particular bride’s preferences and style, you may not need to help with all these items, or she may even think of a few other things for you to do!

First and foremost, the maid of honor is the bride’s consultant and personal confidante. You may help her find the perfect gown, help her select the bridesmaids’ gowns, and get into the planning zone for her bachelorette party and bridal shower.

Furthermore, as the maid of honor in your friend or sister’s wedding, you should take on the following duties and responsibilities:
1. Coordinate with the other bridesmaids and keep everyone on the same page.
2. Assist with the rehearsal dinner.
3. Keep in close touch with the bride and cater to her concerns and needs.
4. Help the bride with her hair, makeup, and accessories on the big day.
5. Serve as a witness in the signing of the marriage license.
6. Assist the bride with her veil and train, if her gown has one. Also, take care of her bouquet during the marriage ceremony.
7. Hang onto the groom’s ring until the appropriate time.
8. Make one hell of a toast to commemorate your dear friend’s new adventures in life and love!

If the bride wishes, you may also take on the following wedding duties and responsibilities as maid of honor:

• Help the bride find the perfect location for the wedding.
• Help her select her wedding invitations, decorations, and wedding favors.
• If her hubby-to-be doesn’t want to go through the bridal registry hoopla, take the time to help your friend register for her desired wedding gifts.
• Help her with any other odds and ends that may not be appealing to her fiancé.

Each bride will be different from the next, so you may need to tailor your maid of honor duties accordingly. Just remember the most important thing is your friend’s comfort and complacency. Be an ear for her to vent to, another set of eyes to help her make decisions, and a shoulder to cry on when everything becomes too overwhelming to bear. And always remind her that everything will be just fine – and her wedding day will be perfect, the happiest day of her life!

Tips on Selecting a Destination Wedding Photographer

As you consider your destination wedding photography options, you will find that your choices tend to be (a.) find a photographer who lives and/or works at your wedding destination, or (b.) pay the added expense of transporting and hosting your preferred photographer from your locale or anywhere in the world.

Destination weddings offer such beautiful backdrops to wedding photography. (Photo by Alyse Liebowitz of 3 Chicks That Click Photography)

Depending on your preferences and your budget, you may already know how you want to approach this issue. If not, there are arguments to be made for both sides. Many brides tend to feel that the photographer is the best element of a wedding where you can splurge, while others may stick to a strict budget no matter how amazing the photographer’s portfolio.

“The internet is a glorious place – I am from Maryland and planned my entire North Carolina wedding via the Internet,” says recent bride Kristen Dinisio Jones.  “Found all my vendors. The great thing about the Internet is that you can actually see photogs portfolios online without meeting them in person and listen to your bands via streaming audio.”

“As far as choosing a photographer, it’s more important to find a photographer you click with and whose images you appreciate, rather than simply selecting someone ‘local,’” says Joe Kusumoto of Joe Kusumoto Photography. “It is worth paying a little extra for travel costs if you find someone whose photo style and personality is a perfect match.”

Lynda Shenkman Curtis is a photographer in Westchester County, New York and owner of Oxygen House Photography Studio. She has traveled to many different places as a wedding photographer and welcomes the opportunity.

“I think it’s just the personal preference of the bride,” Curtis says. “I had a nanny for my kids who was from Northern Ireland, and she always liked my work. She said, ‘when I get married I want to fly you over to shoot my wedding’. So eight years later… I traveled to Belfast to photograph the most incredible wedding. They paid the airfare and put me up at her parents’ house. She wanted someone with whom she was comfortable.

“I had photographed several weddings in of a group of friends who were bridesmaids at each others’ weddings and when one of the girls got married in Northern Vermont, she wanted me for the entire weekend to shoot the various events. She was comfortable with me and liked my style… didn’t want a stranger there for the weekend.  So it all depends on what you’re looking for.”

On the side of finding a photographer near the venue for your destination wedding, recent bride Angela F. Bachman notes that most photographers these days have a Web site where you can conveniently view their work. Bachman suggests asking for the photographer’s references from past clients and also asking those clients if you could see any of their images. She also recommends asking the hotel or your destination wedding venue for recommendations on wedding photographers in the area.

Beach weddings and destination weddings often require special photography considerations. (Photo courtesy of Kristen Dinisio Jones, from her wedding)

“Some brides have photographers travel with, but that can be very expensive,” Bachman says. “It would probably even be less expensive to hire two photographers at the remote location so you have a variety of pictures (especially if one turns out to be sub-par).”

Dawn Yorke, a photographer based in South Jersey, notes that most destination wedding venues are a one-stop-shop.

“They try to make it easy for brides and do everything onsite,” Yorke says. “But what they offer might not be your cup of tea, so it might take more investigating to find exactly what you want. If you have a photographer that you trust or really admire it certainly doesn’t hurt to ask if they have travel packages. Some might even split the travel cost or even make it their vacation too! I know most photographers would like to mix it up and work in a new location. Plus it would make it easier to have your photographer nearby when you are choosing your album.”

About the Experts:
Joe Kusumoto is the owner of Joe Kusumoto Photography. Visit online at www.kusumotophoto.com.

Lynda Shenkman Curtis is a photographer in West Chester County, New York and owner of Oxygen House Photography Studio. Visit online at www.Oxygenhousephoto.com.

Dawn Yorke is a photographer based in South New Jersey with her company, DAWNyorkePHOTOGRAPHY. Visit online at www.dawnyorkephotography.com.

Communication Styles – Little Desire to Use the Telephone, Dislike Using the Phone, or Prefer E-mail Instead

When it comes to using the telephone, some people love it and some people hate it. Truth be told, both scenarios are fairly common. Some people actually dislike using the phone so much that it may impact their relationships in one way or another. (photo courtesy of morgueFile.com)Thanks to technology these days, using the phone can often be replaced by text messaging, sending emails, and getting together in person instead.

A number of our readers recently shared their feelings on using the phone, and a number of them didn’t feel particularly fond of the telephone. Here are some thoughts and some alternatives to talking on the phone, when possible.

“I hate talking on the phone! So basically, I only call someone when I need to.  I’m not one of those girls who can sit and talk for hours nonstop on the phone.  That’s a complete waste of time to me. I’m in a serious committed relationship for years now.  I would have no idea how the calling strategies are these days in new relationships.

“I used to work as a collection agent for an engineering firm for 8 years.  I was on the phone Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. with an hour break for lunch.  I would call people to try to collect on the debts they owed.  I was hung up on, yelled at, cursed at, you name it.  I finally quit the job and decided I would never do it again.  I HATE talking on the phone.  Especially if it has to be more than a few minutes. I tend to do most of my communicating through personal contact, or text messaging, and sometimes e-mail.  So my answer to your question about my phone conversation style is, I only call when I need something or it is an emergency.”
– Tammy Marshall, CA

“I don’t really like to talk the phone.  I’m not a chatter. It seems like a waste of time. Caller ID is a must.  Unless it’s a family member I usually let the message machine get the call and return them at my leisure.
You have a much better chance getting my attention with an email as I’m at the computer most of the day.”
– Amy Stripling, AK

“I really dislike phone conversations because my voice often conveys a totally different thought than what I actually think. When I’m in a relationship, I try to stay off the phone.”
–  Kayce Crews, TN

“I’ve been married for almost fifteen years so I have no idea. I am not a phone person, I use it only when email is not an option.”
– Heather Slater, WA

“Usually when I make a new friend, our first ‘call’ is not on the phone – it’s an e-mail! This typically covers any information the other person had requested from me, like a website link. When a phone call becomes warranted, perhaps because some clarification of their request is needed, I will call within a few days of when we met. Unless my schedule is so tight that I can only take return calls at certain times, I will leave a message.

Some people actually dislike using the phone so much that it may impact their relationships in one way or another. (photo courtesy of morgueFile.com)“My phone conversation style varies depending on the circumstances. Sometimes a great deal of information needs to be exchanged, so the call will last 30 minutes or so. Other times it’s a quick ‘hi, how are you?’ and the call will be five minutes or less.”
– Jean Feingold, FL

“I will send a text then call after a few texts back and forth. I don’t leave voice mails unless I really need them to call me back for something.”
– Jennifer Tanner, GA

“I make them chase me or call me. It’s the thrill of the chase that turns men on. I will only call to return a message they left on my answering machine. I prefer quick calls. I do not like to talk on the phone. However, my friend likes to call me late at night and they go on and on! Urghhhhhhhh!”
– Marcy Lynn Strahan, TX

“I talk on the phone all day at work so when I am home I rarely talk on the phone for longer than a couple of minutes, I use the caller ID frequently.”
– Theresa Clift, OH

“My Phone Conversation Style:  I HATE talking on the phone.  It would definitely be the ONLY talk when needing something – I’d much rather just do email.”
– Shelley Krush, NV

“I am on the phone all day at work so I prefer not to talk on the phone at night unless it is my parents or a friend I have not spoken to in a while. I have to wait until it is free and clear to talk (kids are in bed) and I can have a leisurely conversation.  Otherwise I keep the conversations brief and to the point.”
– Mary Beth Isaac, NC

“Calling style: I have a phone phobia. I won’t call anybody and if I must call someone, my palms get sweaty, my hands start shaking, and my voice cracks when I try to talk. I will try to e-mail if possible. If someone calls me, I will only answer if I recognize the number. I figure, if it’s important enough, they will leave a message and call back later.”
– Alecia Gibson, MN

“In any relationship, new or not, I very rarely would be the one to initiate contact. But if I were to, the conversation would be short and to the point. I consider phone calls a necessary evil. Just the facts. The phone is just a means to set up a real meeting, in person. Or in some cases to cancel. I much prefer to see people in person because it’s easier to read them when you can see their physical reaction to what you are saying or to what they are saying. On the phone, it’s like being blind, a whole, very important sense is missing.”
– Erin Walsh

Wedding Gown and Bridal Dress Trends for 2009

Embroidery on your wedding dress is a must-have for many 2009 brides. (photo courtesy of MyWedding.com)If you are getting married in 2009, or if you are recently engaged and beginning to plan your wedding, congratulations! Surely, shopping for your wedding gown is among the most exciting purchases you will make in the coming months.

In case you are wondering, a number of wedding gown styles and trends have come to the surface, allowing us all to see what the hot styles are for wedding dresses in 2009.

As you prepare to select your wedding gown, consider these wedding dress trends for 2009. You’ll have a wide variety of options and of course, you can always decide to go against the 2009 wedding dress trends, selecting a more traditional wedding gown instead. According to the opinions of countless brides, your wedding dress will be the most important purchase – the most sentimental purchase – of your entire wedding planning experience.

One-shoulder necklines are hot for 2009 wedding dress fashions. (Photo courtesy of MyWedding.com)Gretchen Viles, Managing Editor of mywedding.com has kindly shared the latest wedding dress trends for 2009. She recommends the following wedding dress styles as the hot trends for 2009 weddings:

One-Shoulder Neckline
Want to accentuate a natural accessory of yours? This one-bare shoulder style is daring, sexy but delicate all in one. This dress can be without embellishments and still be beautiful.

The Shorter Dress
Tea-length and mini-skirt wedding gowns are a huge hit for 2009. If you’ve got the legs to pull this style off, then go for it! This dress is great for destination wedding too; compact and easier for travel.  Shorter dresses are also perfect for the 2nd that the bride would wear to the reception.


Floral Embroidery
This trend was introduced a few years back, but it has returned with a contemporary twist. You will find ivory, silver or gold dresses, embroidered with subtle, ultra-feminine floral patterns.

Shorter dresses are acceptable wedding dress options for 2009. (photo courtesy of MyWedding.com)Feathers may be the way to go with your wedding gown in 2009. (Photo courtesy of MyWedding.com)Fairy gowns are IN for 2009 weddings. (photo courtesy of MyWedding.com)

Feathers Galore
This style isn’t for everyone, but never-the-less, a top trend. Feathers are everywhere, come 2009. From veils, to the bodice, to the skirt, feathers are for that funky eclectic bride.

Fairy Gowns
Enchanting is the perfect word to describe this trend. You will find crystal, glass beads, sparkling pearls and shimmery organza draping gowns with colors of silver, grey, and off white.

Color Me Happy
Colors from royal crimson to pastel lavender are all over the wedding gown runway. If you aren’t too crazy about a traditional white or ivory gown, 2009 brings in a trendy collection for the not-so-traditional bride. Be bold and strut down the aisle in your color!

Feathers and color are in, in this Edgardo Bonilla wedding gown. (Photo courtesy of MyWedding.com)–    The above tips are from Gretchen Viles of mywedding.com.

“Our best tip for shopping for your wedding dress in ’09: Whether you fit into one of these styles or you don’t, find a dress that’s comfortable and is beautiful in your eyes,” says Gretchen Viles, Managing Editor of mywedding.com. “It’s your big day and your glowing smile will be the most important accessory of all.”

About the Expert:
Gretchen Viles is Managing Editor of mywedding.com, an online wedding planning company that offers assistance for brides in many different regions. Visit online at www.mywedding.com.

 

Astrology and Horoscopes in Love and Relationships – What’s Your Sign?

Explore the Zodiac’s Influence on You and Your Life

Could today be your lucky day, or would you be better off staying under your covers? Can you expect to meet the man of your dreams this month, or are you about to have a falling out with a friend or loved one? Whether you are a firm believer, a playful play-along, or a complete skeptic, astrological readings – horoscopes – have long been held as a favorite in print media and now in Web media.

Astrology focuses on the belief that stars and planets, particularly the twelve signs of the zodiac, can and do influence human lives. In astrological belief, the alignment of the planets, stars, sun, and moon at a person’s birth are said to impact his or her personality and potential for romance and wealth. Sun-sign astrology, requiring only a person’s birth date, is the form of astrology commonly used in print media.

The zodiac is divided into four elements: fire, water, earth, and air. Each sign is believed to hold its own traits, but the four different elements also share various characteristics. Fire signs are considered intuitive and inspirational, as well as positive and interested in the future. Water signs are also thought to be intuitive, but also emotional and sensitive. Earth signs are practical and stable, not to mention good with handling money. Air signs are believed to be intellectual, but also great at communication and social relationships.

FIRE – Aries, Leo, Sagittarius

WATER – Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces

EARTH – Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn

AIR – Gemini, Libra, Aquarius

There are plenty of arguments to support or refute the validity of astrology and the zodiac. Some people feel that astrology is just plain silly, or merely for entertainment purposes. After all, who doesn’t love reading a horoscope now and then?

Others may swear by their horoscopes on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. The argument of how the moon affects the tides suggests that truth in astrology may not be that farfetched after all. Could life as we know it and the position of the stars and other cosmic bodies truly intertwine?

Still others may look down upon the zodiac. Their rational, practical sides may have them convinced that there is absolutely no truth to the words astrologers pen for the many newspapers and magazines that choose to print horoscopes.

The study of astrology and horoscopes is fascinating to say the least. Whether you believe in astrology and the zodiac or not, remember that you are responsible for your own actions. The coincidences that link your life to your horoscope may be significant. Live your life as you wish, but don’t play out every move according to the zodiac. Read your zodiac for fun or for a gentle guide now and again, but remember to be wise in your actions as you strive for your dreams and goals.

Unique, Alternative, and Outrageous Date Ideas for Valentine’s Day or Any Romantic Date Occasion

So, you’re tired of the same old dinner and a movie date for Valentine’s Day? So are we. Enjoy a special treat on Valentine's Day with your sweetheart. So we’ve scoured the Web and called upon a number of dating and lifestyles experts to help make your Valentine’s Day date planning even easier this year. Instead of a run-of-the-mill dinner and a movie date, consider these unique alternatives for the Valentine holiday or any romantic date occasion.

One thing to keep in mind as you plan your alternative Valentine’s Day date: make your significant other the focus. Plan something that you know the two of you will enjoy, or something that you’ve both never done that you can experience together. Planning a Valentine’s Day date can be a time-consuming task if you plan to go all out, but it can also be a snap if you plan to keep things simple this February 14.

“Do something original,” says Paul A. Falzone, CEO of The Right One and Together, a well-established personal introduction service. “Be yourself; cater to the unique desires of your loved one. Anything you can do to be creative and personalize the day should be attempted. Think of some of the things you discovered you both liked when you first began dating each other. Maybe you both have a passion for jazz music or crave warm brownies with ice cream at midnight. Whatever it may be, somehow work it in to the day or night. Creating a wonderful Valentine’s Day is not rocket science. By concentrating on the little things, you’ll ensure romantic fireworks.”

And just a reminder, while we’ve crafted this article with Valentine’s Day in mind, these romantic date ideas can work for just about anyone anytime. If you want to surprise your sweetheart with a romantic date for any reason or for no reason at all, consider these romantic date ideas on Valentine’s Day or all year long.

Creative, Unique, and Unusual Valentine’s Day Date Ideas
Attend a craft class or couples activity like Sips n Strokes, a bring-your-own-beverage paint class where couples can take home their masterpieces. Classes are two hours long and cost between $25 and $40. Available Sips n Strokes locations currently include Alabama, Georgia, and soon will include Tennessee. For more information, visit www.sipsnstrokes.com.

Go on a wine tasting excursion. Plan a chauffeured winery tour with some pals or fly solo with your sweetheart. Just be sure you either (a) drink in moderation for safe travels, or (b) set up transportation or a designated driver.
– Life Love Beauty

•    Buy a bird-watching guide that has local species and maps, and plan a birding expedition to a local park or bird sanctuary.
•    Pick a new sports activity — such as rock climbing, sailing, or trapeze–and take a lesson together.
•    Buy a shiatsu or Swedish massage DVD and be each other’s test subject.
•    Cook dinner together — but try a cuisine, such as Thai or Ethopian, that neither of you knows how to cook.
•    Volunteer at the local animal shelter or food pantry as a couple.
– Nicholas Aretakis, author of Ditching Mr. Wrong: How to End a Bad Relationship and Find Mr. Right (Next Stage Press, www.DitchingMr.Wrong.com)

•    Enjoy ice skating under the stars and hot chocolate.
•    Find a musical concert.
•    Hire a personal chef to make a special dinner at home.
•    Go out dancing! (I live in Washington, DC that has every dancing imaginable.
•    Take a drive to the beach and walk along the boardwalk.
– Amy Schoen, MBA, CPCC, Heartmind Connection Coaching, Life Coach and Dating/Relationship Expert, www.heartmindconnection.com

“Frankly, in the great running history of romance we all have in our heads, another action flick with a side of spaghetti doesn’t even register a blip,” says author Lisa Daily. “So whether you’re on your first date or your forty-first, pass on the popcorn, the bouquet of a dozen long stems, and the usual dinner out. Below you’ll find six dates that will get your heart pounding in more ways than one.”

•    Roller-Skating at a Roller-Skating Rink Date – Take your date back to the fifth grade—to a world where glittering disco balls, neon shoelaces, and doing the Y.M.C.A are still cool. Sure, neither one of you will be able to skate backwards, and first-graders hopped up on birthday cake will probably leave you in the dust, but at least you’ll know you’re hooked up when they turn down the lights for the “couples skate.” So geek, it’s chic.

•    Habitat for Humanity Date – You’re not just a great date; you’re a great human being! Nothing brings people close together like doing something for others. You’ll be tired; you’ll be proud; you’ll be an ace with a circular saw. For a project near you, check out www.habitat.org. The atmosphere is great; you can pack your own picnic; and you’ll both have the chance to show off your better side. Whether you help out for a single Saturday or dedicate yourself for a lifetime, it will be a date neither one of you will ever forget.

•    Ballroom Dancing Date – With the popularity of crooners on the rise, it only makes sense that ballroom dancing would be making a comeback in a huge way. It’s romantic; it’s fun; and most girls adore a guy who can really twirl them on the dance floor. Not only that, it’s a great way to get close (and get your heart pounding) in a nonthreatening way. There’s nothing that makes a woman swoon like a guy who can cut a rug. Lots of studios have beginner nights and one-time lessons; for a dance studio near you, check out DanceNet (www.havetodance.com), which offers links and info on studios in the United States and Canada.

•    The Flying Wallinskis Date – There are a bunch of new “experience” sites cropping up online, offering everything from flying-trapeze lessons, where you learn to “fly” like circus performers, to Nascar driving, where you can actually do a couple laps in a real Nascar race car, to cave exploring, where you, well, explore caves. What’s surprising is that many of the options are quite affordable (as in, under $50). Check out Wallbounce (www.wallbounce.com), Great American Days (www.greatamericandays.com), and Total Experience (www.totalexperience.ca) for an adventure near you. Offerings vary by region and season, so you never know what thrills may lie in your own backyard.

•    Horseback Riding – Pack a picnic lunch, and take advantage of a chance to slow down and enjoy the ride. Most riding stables will let you rent for an hour or a half day. We ladies love cowboys. Even if it’s temporary.

•    Book Signing Date – It’s different. It’s interesting. And it’s going on at a bookstore near you. And as long as you don’t pick a title like Twenty-Five Years of Cute Cats or Encyclopedia of Mold and Spores, your date will think you’re smart, and you’ll have something to talk about when you get coffee afterward. Most authors do book signings, but even the famous ones hardly ever draw more than
a few people (except that damned dog Mr. Winkle—his book signings usually have crowd-control personnel worthy of visiting royalty and a line of screaming fans around the block). Get your books signed (as long as you’re there, you might as well get a couple—personalized books make great holiday gifts); enjoy the discussion and the free coffee; and spend some time chatting with the author. You’ll have a souvenir from your date, and you might just start your own book club for two.
– Lisa Daily, excerpts from her new book, How to Date Like a Grown-Up, www.stopgettingdumped.com

Romantic, Sweet, and Sentimental Valentine’s Day Dates


Valentine’s Day Alternatives – Fun, Social, or Solo Activities for Singles on February 14

Regardless of your relationship status, Valentine’s Day is a great day to spend with friends and loved ones. Even if you are single on Valentine’s Day, there are a number of social and solo activities you can enjoy. As you make your plans, be sure to consider these exciting Valentine’s Day alternatives.

Experts in the fields of love and relationships have shared their favorite Valentine’s Day alternatives for singles on the feted day of love.

Valentine’s Day Alternatives for Singles Who Want to Be Social
Dr. Paulette Kouffman Sherman, psychologist and author of ‘Dating from the Inside Out: How to Use the Law of Attraction in Matters of the Heart’ by Atria Books, suggests the following tips for things singles can do on Valentine’s Day:

1.    Go Out & Be With People: Do not sit home alone just because you’re not coupled off.  Be with the people you love like friends and family and celebrate the great support you do have that day.

2.    Give Back: Valentine’s Day is a time to be loving and generous with others.  So, it’s a terrific day to volunteer and visit the elderly who are alone or shut-ins who are homebound or chronically ill or homeless people who don’t have family around.  Love does not just have to be romantic.  Open your heart today.

3.    Go to a Single’s Event: Instead of being depressed that you don’t have a mate, do something about it. Valentine’s Day is a great day to go out because other singles might be looking too.  How romantic would it be to meet your mate on Valentine’s Day?  And even if you don’t, your actions are showing the world you are ready to attract your mate and it is just a matter of time till you do.

Solo or Social Valentine’s Day Ideas – Make Valentine’s Day a Spa Day
Sometimes some time alone to relax and rejuvenate your body, mind, and spirit can be the perfect fix for Valentine’s Day as a single female. From manicures and pedicures to facials, bubble baths, and everything in between, you can pamper yourself from head to toe on Valentine’s Day. Make this Valentine’s Day all about YOU!

Of course, if you and your best girlies find yourselves single on Valentine’s Day, you can always throw a girls night in, complete with chick flicks, pints of ice cream, and at-home spa treatments. Enjoy indulging in snacks and treating yourselves to pedicures, manicures, and exotic facials.

For a perfect pampering treat that’s easy to use, check out Spa Sisters gift sets. Gather together with your single girlfriends and treat yourselves to a pampered evening. Spa Sisters gift sets contain all kinds of bath and body goodies for pampering and relaxation. For example, the Foot Folly Relaxation Set includes embroidered Chenille slippers, exfoliating foot sponge, soy foot butter, and a nail file, all in a convenient carrying case.

The Absolute Night Luxury gift set for the rejuvenated and relaxed woman contains embroidered hearts spa slippers, moisturizing lavender foot butter, dual-sided pumice stick, Vitamin E foot caviars (tiny soothing foot soak beads in lavender and chamomile), a nail file, and hydrated lip gloss, all tucked inside a handy zippered carrying case.

Spa Sister gift sets of all kinds are available, like the Sweet Body Bath Set, boasting groovy pampering products such as bubble bath potions, bath sugar cubes, moisturizing sugar body cream, foot brush with pumice stone, and more. You can select your favorite gift set for a night of personal pampering or pick out a Spa Sisters gift set for each of your gal pals and have a singles spa party.

For another luxurious spa option, consider planning a day trip to your favorite spa or an overnight trip to a hotel spa resort. Countless resorts and hotel properties have an onsite spa for the ultimate luxury and convenience. As one example, Hotel Gansevoort in New York City offers a Girls Escape Package for single girls. Women who could use a nice relaxing escape with their friends can enjoy complimentary drinks, passes to a local nightclub, and discounts at neighborhood shops and boutiques.

More Suggestions on How Singles Can Celebrate Valentine’s Day…


How to Seduce Your Man for Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is almost here and many of us have yet to pick out the perfect present. Men seem to have the easy way out…buy us some chocolates, jewelry, flowers or perfume and a sappy card and we’ll be more than satisfied.

Seduce your man with these romantic tips!In my dating years, I’ve found that shopping for the man can be quite a chore… they like gadgets and gizmos, electronics and what-cha-ma-call-its for their cars, but somehow those items don’t really embody the true sentiment of Valentine’s Day. Instead, why not focus on your relationship and sexy ways you can seduce your man for Valentine’s Day?!

Whether your man enjoys or objects to the lovey-dovey holiday of St. Valentine, give him a gift he’ll remember for all time. Having a hard time thinking of something? Read on for a few interesting, creative and seductive suggestions!

Write little love notes proposing intimate things you’d like to do together. Sneak them in his coat pocket, in his gloves, in his lunch bag or somewhere in his car or anywhere he’ll be sure to find them. Once he gets home from work, he’ll be sure to take you up on your hints!

Craft a cute and clever coupon book with your sweetie in mind. Include traditional favorites like “free back massage” or “free full body massage,” relaxing options like a “hot bubble bath for two,” racy suggestions like “dessert…on you” and more risqué proposals that you come up with on your own. Remember, anything goes!

Take some naughty photos for your honey. Place a bunch of them in an unmarked envelope or craft them into a sexy calendar so he can enjoy them throughout the year.

Pick out some sexy bedroom attire in the intimates department, with him in mind. Wrap it in beautiful paper and enjoy the look of surprise and desire that lights up in his eyes when he opens your gift. Whether you select a silky chemise, sheer nightgown or another hot little number, he’s sure to be all yours tonight!

Bake him some “naughty cookies” and send them with him to work. Whatever you do, advise him that these cookies aren’t for sharing! Using a delightful sugar cookie recipe, heart-shaped cookie cutter and your own decorating skills, you’ll be able to create a tasty yet memorable gift for your special valentine. With delicious icing, be sure to write some sexy sayings on your life-size conversation hearts!

What Guys Really Want for Valentine’s Day

What do guys really want for Valentine's Day?

Whether they’ll admit it or not, most guys are pleased to receive gifts and sweet sentiments from their other half. With the holiday of love fast approaching, many women are wondering what guys really want for Valentine’s Day. A love note, a greeting card, a batch of fresh baked chocolate chip cookies – the small things often are the ones that matter most. But there are many other types of gifts guys tend to like receiving from their sweethearts.

Handmade greeting cards, Valentine’s, and love notes are among top requests from guys when it comes to Valentine’s Day gifts. For a number of guys, spending time with their significant other is the top priority.

Sergeant Neil Gussman of the National Guard wants to be home with his family for Valentine's Day 2010. (Photo courtesy of Sgt. Neil Gussman)“In addition to my day job, I am a sergeant in the Army National Guard and going to Iraq at the end of January,” says Neil Gussman of Chemical Heritage Foundation. “What I really want for Valentine’s Day is to be home with my wife for Valentine’s Day 2010.”

Editor’s Note: Neil, we wish you the safe travels and tour in Iraq and hope you come home to your family soon and definitely in time for next Valentine’s Day!

From all the guys who responded to our inquiries, we received the following tips and trends on what guys really want for Valentine’s Day:

–    Handmade greeting cards
–    Beer
–    Money / Gift Cards
–    Sex
–    Cuddling in the buff
–    Naughty pictures
–    Handwritten love notes
–    CD of songs
–    Dinner and a movie
–    A day trip somewhere you’d both enjoy

Despite the above ideas of what guys really want for Valentine’s Day, some men still hold out that they don’t want or need any gifts at all. In this case, we’d recommend making a point to spend some extra time together or do something together that you both enjoy.

Your Valentine’s Day gift needn’t cost money or take a lot of time to plan. You can do something as simple as cooking a meal together or snuggling up on your sofa to watch a movie. If you can get out of the house and experience something together like a trip to the park or a museum or any other date activity that also makes a nice gift without the wrapping. Spending time together is a precious gift that doesn’t have a price tag.

No Playing Games in Relationships – Call as Often as You Want and Let the Person Know How You Feel

While everyone has his or her own different perspective and attitude going into a new relationships, many people find that honesty and being himself or herself are the best policies. Call as often as you like in relationships and show yourself for who you are. (Photo courtesy of morgueFile)Playing games in a relationship could include having a strategy, employing dating tactics, or playing hard to get when getting to know someone.

For someone to get to know you for who you really are, avoiding these games and tactics may be the best way to proceed in a new relationship. Of course, personality characteristics such as being shy or being especially flirtatious or outgoing may aid in your interactions with a love interest in a new relationship.

Consider these tips from our readers as you prepare to move into a new relationship. Communication in a new relationship is vital to establishing a good foundation and getting to know each other. So be brave, be yourself, and get to know your new significant other and let him or her get to know you, too!

“I call, leave messages, and text whenever I want to: I want my partner to know exactly how I feel about them. What is your phone conversation style: I prefer not to talk when in public, so it’s only when I need something. However, if I have privacy, I can talk forever!”
– James Edward Anderson, NY

“I’m married but I’m not into calling I wait till they call, if I do call I leave a message because I hate when people call me and hang up.  I guess I’m not into games.  If I like them I let them know, its always worked for me.  If I need to call them for some reason I do. I like quick calls, don’t want to bother anyone.  Except for friends and family who all live far away.”
– Amy Lutz, NM

“In a new relationship, I arrange a day and time to call, and I call then. If the person I’m calling doesn’t answer, I leave a brief message. I don’t call again because the other person knew when I’d be calling, so barring something really important, he should have been there to take my call if he wanted to talk to me. If he calls me back, I don’t ask him 20 questions about why he wasn’t there to take my call, because I’m an adult and assume he is, too.

“Generally, my phone style is brief and to the point; I really don’t like “visiting” on the phone. I know that others like it, though, so I’m fine with staying on the phone for a while.”
– Deb Rosen, WV

“I have no strategy.”
– Brian Grasso, CA

“We’ve all heard about the man or woman who just came on too strong…  and we’re each a little afraid of ever receiving that “desperate” stamp on foreheads because of seeming too clingy.  Right?  Well it shouldn’t be that way, it’s really a silly fear to have.  The greatest pleasure that being in love can bring to our lives is that we don’t have to be ruled by our inhibitions and timeframes, we can just be ourselves and be happy.

“I simply do what my heart tells me to do, it’s really as simple as that.  I have *NO* “calling stategy” in a relationship and I really don’t think anyone else should have one either…  the mere phrase – calling strategy – implies “PLAYER!” and that’s something we’d all like to avoid.  Would you like to call your new significant other?  Call them!  If after hanging up you’d like to call them right back because it thrills you just to talk to them…  do it!  If you’d like to send a text every few hours just to be sure you’re on their mind, do it!  Want to send five texts in a row?  Go for it!  Be yourself and keep it real, and if the other person isn’t keeping it just as real as you are then perhaps they’d be better off with another player just like they are because YOU are no player…  you’re real…  right?  RIGHT??

“The only rule anyone should ever follow is this:
If you aren’t so crazy about the person that you can’t resist maintaining frequent contact with them, then find someone you ARE that crazy about because everyone deserves to feel passionate about the person in their life…  if you don’t, something isn’t right!  And needless to say, if your passion for someone isn’t reciprocated… keep moving until it is!

“There are more than enough players out there in the sea of singles, so please people…  don’t add to their numbers by using a “calling strategy”.  Be real or be nothing.”  =)
– Stephen Saunders, VA

Wedding Photography Tips for Destination Brides

When it all comes down to it, destination weddings are a completely different animal than traditional weddings held near the bride’s home or even near the groom’s home. Consider these tips for your destination wedding photography. (Photo courtesy of morgueFile.com)Planning a destination wedding is often done remotely, over the phone and over the Internet, with referrals and reviews of the vendors coming in very handy.

Selecting a photographer for a destination wedding and planning the details of your wedding photography can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t always have to be if you follow a few wedding photography tips for destination weddings.

As a destination bride, you’ve surely got a ton of things on your mind already. More than likely, you’d love to cross a few more things off your list of what you still need to do. Planning your destination wedding photography needs can be less tricky when you consider a few tips from wedding photographers and other destination brides.

Planning Ahead for Your Destination Wedding Photos
Even the best laid plans can still go awry, but taking the time and effort to set things up for your destination wedding photography can go a long way toward a successful wedding photo shoot. Consider these tips to help you prepare for your destination wedding photo shoot.

Dawn Yorke, a photographer based in South Jersey, suggests planning your ceremony later in the day to avoid mid-day glare (and sweat).

Kristen Dinisio Jones and her husband enjoyed a beach wedding celebration. (Photo courtesy of Kristen Dinisio Jones)“Think about where the sun is going to be during your wedding for photos,” says recent bride Kristen Dinisio Jones. “You don’t want to have the wedding too late so that your pics are dark, however planning it just right so that you get the sun setting, now that’s great.”

“Be sure to consider the time of year you’re looking at different beach sites versus the date of your wedding,” says Joe Kusumoto of Joe Kusumoto Photography. If you check out a location in the fall (which is not prime beach time so will present a pristine view without crowds), remember that a summer wedding at the same spot will bring lots of beach goers that you can’t control!

“Also, embrace the elements. If you choose a beach wedding, take advantage of the natural setting – bare feet in the sand, windblown veil and hair, playing in the shallow tide – which are not only fun for the beach bride and wedding party, but make for great photos!”

Playing on the natural elements all around you is a fabulous idea for destination wedding photography. You can also get creative on your own account, or take things as they come and see what kind of excitement and craziness shall ensue.

“Also, beach weddings are fun, so try to think of fun things to do in your pictures, like take a picture with your wedding party in sunglasses,” says Angela F. Bachman, who celebrated her beach wedding two years ago. “If it’s a destination wedding be sure to get a group shot of everyone and then have copies made to send to all of your guests.”

(Kristen Dinisio Jones and her husband enjoyed a beach wedding celebration. Photo courtesy of Kristen Dinisio Jones.)

Surviving Destination Wedding Photography Sessions
Perhaps entertain this one bit of advice before you dash off for your destination wedding: expect the unexpected. As all too many former brides can attest, in just about every wedding, something can and does always go wrong. Luckily, with a good wedding planner or some really amazing bridesmaids, many times the bride never catches wind of the calamity.
A destination bride is doused in bugspray during her wedding in Honduras. (Photo by Alyse Liebowitz of 3 Chicks That Click Photography)
By being proactive in planning and preparing for your destination wedding, you can protect yourself from a number of possible issues. By following a few of these tips on wedding photography for destination brides, you can further enhance your chances of a flawless wedding photography shoot.

“Avoid the sun before the wedding,” says Alyse Liebowitz, owner of 3 Chicks That Click Photography. “A sunburned bride in a white dress will look radioactive in photos.”

Liebowitz also recommends simple and lightweight wedding gowns for the destination bride.

“If the ceremony or reception is outside, it will be hot and humid,” she says. “Dress to keep cool, i.e., halter or sheath dresses, not gowns. For brides that want a sunset ceremony on the beach, be aware that insects are most active at that time. Bug spray is a must!”

(A destination bride is doused in bugspray during her wedding in Honduras. Photo by Alyse Liebowitz of 3 Chicks That Click Photography.)

Advice from Recent Brides on Destination Wedding and Beach Wedding Photography…