June 30, 2014

{Aromatherapy-Wise Bride}

Dear Bride-to-Be:
Your time of being a bride should be a dreamy time filled with love! However, if you're doing most of the wedding planning and organizing yourself, it can get a bit stressful, yes? So how can you have the best of all worlds: Stay “full of love, ease and creativity” while planning a wedding from your heart....?

Here are bits of aromatherapy wisdom to get your creative juices flowing:

•     “Lightly spritz wedding invitations and love letters with tea rose or jasmine scents…it helps send love around the world.”

•     “Put a few drops of essential oil on an unscented dryer sheet with your bed linens…lavender pillowcases call sweet dreams close….love follows the scent of rose. Choose either fragrance for a dreamy rest.”

•     “Add a couple of drops of relaxing lavender essential oil onto a practical (washable) white linen handkerchief to carry on your wedding day. Then as you dab at tears (his or yours), the scent brings sweet calm.

Be an “aromatherapy-wise” bride and enjoy your fragrantly-creative-planning-time and a love-scented wedding day!

Love. Listen. Let go.
...with love from Cornelia

[Photograph: Ian Grant]

June 23, 2014

Old-Fashioned {Redux}

[This is a reprint of my article, "Being Old-Fashioned, Downton Abbey Style," from the summer issue of SEASON magazine. Scroll to page 93 or enjoy text below!]

Being Old-Fashioned, Downton Abbey Style
One of my favorite bridal historians, British writer Ann Monsarrat, talked about how old “innocent superstitions…just for fun” became wedding “traditions” in Victorian times. Although most wedding customs have ancient roots back to the days of arranged marriages (like “the superstition that the bride and groom should not meet on their wedding day until they do so at the altar”), it was the sentimental Victorians who made them part of the “rules” of wedding etiquette. And even if a tad old-fashioned, some traditions stayed around while others disappeared in the regimented practicality guiding many weddings today.

It reminds me of the episode of Downton Abbey in season three when Martha Levinson, Cora’s very avant garde American mother played by Shirley Maclaine, arrives for Lady Mary’s wedding. At dinner the night before the ceremony, Violet, the other grandmother (Maggie Smith’s witty character, the proper Dowager Countess) tells Martha that Matthew won’t be dining with them since it’s “bad luck” for the groom to see the bride. Martha teases about following such old-fashioned notions: “It’s 1920 for heaven’s sake!”

However, old-fashioned or not, keeping some traditions just brings out the sweetness in us. Remember the Downton Abbey scene later that night when Matthew slips into the Abbey to apologize to Mary and—with her slightly opened bedroom door between them—asks for a reconciliation kiss. After a pause, Mary softens and smiles: “Only if you close your eyes…it’s bad luck to see me before the wedding.” (He does, she does, then takes a peek, and they seem even more in love when they meet at the altar the next morning!)

Now I can appreciate the benefits of being practical as much as the next fellow; and I understand that the current practice of taking photographs of all the wedding party before the ceremony is indeed “practical.” But don’t you think it spoils some of the romantic mystery?

Ann Monsarrat told this charming story around the 1893 wedding of a future king and queen: 

…when Princess May of Teck and the Duke of York caught sight of each other from opposite ends of one of the long, long corridors of Buckingham Palace on their marriage morning, they took it as a happy sign. They were a constrained couple, always writing to explain how much they loved each other and apologising that they could not actually say so; both were warmed by the brief encounter. The Duke, according to Queen Mary’s official biographer ‘swept her a low and courtly bow. This gesture she never forgot.’

Certain old-fashioned notions may be worth saving—especially if they inspire such courtliness and tender memories. And in our “let it all hang out” modern world, they may prove absolutely essential in keeping some of our “mystery” intact (and a woman’s mystery never goes out of fashion and sometimes romance needs a bit of old-fashioned nudging.) ~

June 11, 2014

{Open Your Heart}

Dear Bride-to-Be:
With all the commercial hype, canned traditions, and tantalizing nonsense out there, it’s an extra daunting time for whomever is planning a wedding—whether it’s the bride, her mother or both! So several years ago, I created “Open Your Heart” CDs for these busy, task-oriented women. Not only as a way to support their ease and well-being, but the short, guided relaxations were also designed to help their choices come from the heart. (I’ve been to so many weddings where the character, soul and intimacy have been squeezed out of the wedding day because of the stress to “get it right” instead of relaxing and simply “sharing your love.”) 
So I introduced my CDs —a version for brides and another for all women—at one of those big, splashy bridal extravaganzas. During the afternoon event in the hotel’s grand ballroom, my team and I greeted the rush of visitors—hundreds of brides with their wedding entourage in tow. And for those brides, mothers and members of the wedding party who paused at our booth, I shared the benefits of slowing down during their wedding planning time for a few moments of relaxation and ease. (You’ll “feel better” and “look more beautiful”—and with some of the brides I threw in “have better sex” to really get their attention!) Some of the brides-to-be looked rather bewildered when I mentioned “relaxation,” reacting with words like: “I’m just too busy/tense/crazed to slow down and relax!” Hmmmmm.

As many thousands of brides as I had worked with over the years in my former shop by the time I did this event, I figured I’d be met with some resistance to the notion “that being calm and not reactive” equaled  happier relationships. (So the nature of the reactions I received certainly didn’t bode well for peaceful marriages and family life ahead.) Nevertheless, it wasn’t surprising that just as many of the mothers of future brides and grooms spoke up with: “I’m the one who needs this CD!”

I think we can all use support in slowing down, relaxing, and bringing ease to our bodies, mind and spirit no matter the tasks we’ve taken on. As the wise Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh prompts us: “Breathe, smile and go slowly.” (And I say, a more beautiful bride is a more relaxed, in-her-heart bride!)

Find a way to ease your noisy mind...remember, deeeeeeep easy breaths. Create your own ritual of stillness—a meditative womanly ritual for deep relaxation—one that would be a gift of heart-opening ease (a gift to you, to him, to all!) Even if it’s only five minutes of quiet solitude a day: in the early morning before your busy day begins or as an afternoon break; after a bath to continue your relaxation or before bed to support deep rest. Find your quiet hub; find your inner stillness. Open your heart.

Love. Listen. Let go.
...with love from Cornelia

[Photographs: J Nichols Photography]