December 10, 2015

{Heart Words}

Dear Bride-to-Be
With our “gratitude” theme from last month, I was reminded of another excerpt from my new book, The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride. I love how this little story expresses the importance of sharing from your heart…no matter how busy or tired or preoccupied you might be. The setting here is following a most momentous wedding in 1947:

...then there are always some “heart words” sitting there, waiting to be said or put into a letter, no matter the circumstances, even for a busy and tired king. Following a grand November wedding; after waving to cheering crowds from the central balcony of Buckingham Palace; after a wedding meal “including twelve wedding cakes, the main one nine feet high” where five kings, eight queens, eight princes and ten princesses were present; after the newlyweds, the new Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh, left for their honeymoon in an open carriage; later that evening, as historian Dulcie Ashdown shared, “King George VI sat down to write to his daughter.”

I was so proud of you and thrilled at having you close to me on our long walk in Westminster Abbey, but when I handed your hand to the Archbishop, I felt I had lost something very precious. You were so calm and composed during the Service and said your words with such conviction that I knew everything was alright.

This letter may have been written by a king to his daughter on her wedding day (a princess who only four years later would take her father’s place on the throne, becoming Queen Elizabeth II, and who has now surpassed her great-great grandmother in longevity of service as British monarch), but at its heart, the letter’s loving sentiment is a message that any daughter would be pleased to hear from her father or mother on any given day.

On this day, at this moment, share from your heart. We all need some “heart words” about now!

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

[Enjoy your own copy of The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride {Volume One} For Better or Worse, How Princess Diana Rescued the Great White Wedding....easy to order from Amazon with a speedy delivery!] 

[Images above from Queen Elizabeths wedding day.]

November 16, 2015

{A Grateful Heart}

Dear Bride-to-Be: 
Continuing our theme of “gratitude” (and any wedding would definitely lose “style points” without expressing it!), I want to share an excerpt from my new book, The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride {Volume One} For Better or Worse, How Princess Diana Rescued the Great White Wedding. It’s from a section titled, “A Grateful Heart”: 

Diana worked closely with a team of people in preparation for her wedding—a full, busy day where her every move had been followed and commented upon by the worldwide media. Yet those wedding teammates had a surprising end to the long, thrilling and tiring day. “‘I just wanted to say hello and thanks for today,’” Diana told Barbara Daly, her make-up artist, around ten in the evening when she phoned. “There are many beautiful people in the world,” Daly shared in Diana: A Portrait, but Diana had that extra thing, which is really a very genuine warmth because she had a loving and compassionate heart.” In their late-night phone call from the brand-new princess, David and Elizabeth Emanuel were thanked for making her beautiful wedding dress and told “how wonderful she had felt wearing it.” And Diana followed with thank you notes to them all.

The section goes on to explain that “Princess Diana was known throughout her life for her hand-written thank you notes sent immediately following an event, whether a small soirĂ©e or a grand gala—or simply acknowledging a kind gesture paid to her.” Now I’m not suggesting that you become known for writing “thank-you notes”—although it would be a beautiful legacy—but becoming known for a kind heart would carry its own “royal” blessing and I would wager that it would light up your world!

Love. Listen. Let go.

November 2, 2015

{Thank You Notes}

Dear Bride-to-Be:
"Gratitude is the memory of the heart" a wise French scholar once said. And being grateful expresses the tenderest parts of ourselves. So what about those wedding "Thank You" notes? No excuses like "you're too busy" or "they're old-fashioned"writing thank-you notes for gifts and favors and assistance you've received are as essential to your wedding planning duties as ordering the invitations, selecting the cake, or finding the perfect dress!

The editors of Martha Stewart Weddings devoted an entire section to "How to Write a Thank-You Note" ... and here's what they said about getting started:
In the afterglow of a wedding, it can be a joy to write thank-you notes expressing heartfelt gratitude for the gifts you've received. But no matter how genuine your feelings, keeping the sentiment meaningful from one note to the next takes focus and creativity. Plus, you need to be somewhat organized to get the messages completed in a timely fashion.

Continuing with tips about "getting organized," "keeping track," and "what should the notes look like," the magazine editors also remind you that "feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it!" Need I say more?

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

[Top quote from Jean Baptiste Massieu, bottom quote from William Arthur Ward; images from Martha Stewart Weddings.]

October 7, 2015

{Mothers, Daughters and Weddings}

Dear Bride-to-Be: 
I thought youd enjoy my article published in the fall issue of Season Magazine. Click here to read it from the online magazine...and Ive reprinted it below. ’Tis an excerpt from my new book The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride {Volume One} For Better or Worse, How Princess Diana Rescued the Great White Wedding.

Mothers, Daughters and Weddings

Historically, weddings reflect changes within a culture. And perhaps no relationship is more affected than that of mothers and daughters. It was not long ago (when brides were typically young women not yet out of the “family nest”) that mothers orchestrated the whole affair. But today most brides are independent women who plan their own wedding—only sometimes with their mother’s assistance.

Nevertheless, weddings can still offer the possibility for mothers and daughters to deepen or restore their connection with each other—especially by participating in shared activities that have the quality of ritual. Many years ago this may have been creating the bridal gown together or stitching trousseau linens for the bride’s new home, offering opportunities to chat about life and love and what the future may bring. Today it could be a joint outing to try on dresses. (And if it’s to deepen relationships, I advise leaving judgments at home and taking one’s most diplomatic self along!)

Fashion designer Vera Wang has become an expert on weddings. Not just because she’s designed thousands of bridal gowns—and attended almost as many ceremonies—but also because of her keen observation of relationships. So her take on mothers is worth noting:

Each parent has his or her own distinct part to play. The most complex and challenging relationship, however, is often that of mother and daughter. Differences in style, vision and expectation can begin with the gown and end at the reception, with every issue in between fair game for controversy. A wedding can unleash torrents of emotion, and a bride must balance her own need for control with her mother’s sense of involvement. Sometimes fashion can even become an excuse for unexpressed issues.

The late designer Oscar de la Renta, who had been present for many mother-daughter gatherings in his bridal studio, had “gentlemanly” thoughts about mothers when asked who a bride should bring with her on a shopping excursion:

It would be cruel not to bring your mother along. The wedding is almost as important to the mother as it is to the bride. But brides should prepare their mothers for what they are thinking of wearing. The mother always has a notion of what she wants her daughter to look like, but the daughter is a woman now and she wants to look like one. If I feel like the bride is holding back on choosing something she really wants because she doesn’t want to hurt her mother’s feelings, I ask the mother if I can talk to the bride alone.

I recall those daughter-mother encounters in my former shop; some tender, some extremely tense, some remarkably both. At times it was as though I was watching each woman relive her life in an emotional time-lapse montage. A wedding becomes more of a pleasure and a blessing when we remember it’s a pivotal rite-of-passage for both daughter and mother. 
Try a little tenderness.~

[Mother and daughter photo courtesy of BHLDN]

September 22, 2015

{A Meandering Path}

Dear Bride-to-Be
I always find my customers and audiences curious about the origin of wedding rituals: tossing the garter; exchanging rings; the “something old, something new” rhyme; the bride’s bouquet. These are rituals and traditions so familiar, even comforting, that we’ve accepted them into our modern celebrations—yet a mystery remains.

Their origins are hazy; different societies added different meanings and their practice usually took a meandering path through the centuries, making some hard to trace. Wedding traditions, as author Carol McD. Wallace shares, have “complicated roots.” That’s why I consider wedding rituals come from sacred legends or a kind of fairy tale: folklore from our heritage revealing itself a bit mysteriously.

Whatever rituals and traditions you use in your wedding ceremony—whether in a gilded cathedral or grand synagogue, on some lofty mountaintop or in a serene garden—choose ones that touch your heart, light up your relationship, and move you to deeper expressions of love.

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

[Photograph courtesy of Vogue.]

September 3, 2015

{Breathe, Smile and Go Slowly}

Dear Bride-to-Be
“To be ‘on edge,’ you are literally not centered—not being in your spiritual center,” poet Carrie Latet once said. Planning a wedding can be one of the most “on edge” times. With all the commercial hype, canned traditions, and tantalizing nonsense out there, it’s an extra daunting time for the bride and/or the mother of one doing the planning.

The wise Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh prompts us: “Breathe, smile and go slowly.” This is a perfect mantra for busy brides…especially when you want to stay heart-centered and lovingly connected with your beloved.

Whether we’re planning a wedding, a trip, a charity ball, or what’s for dinner, we can all use support in slowing down, relaxing, and bringing ease to our bodies, mind and spirit. It just makes us happier! So take a deep, slow, smiling breath…and see how it feels. Mmmmm.

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

[Photograph courtesy of Vogue]

August 7, 2015

{Love & English Teacups!}

Dear Bride-to-Be
With the popularity of Downton Abbey, all things charmingly vintage and elegantly English have a renewed appeal. (And for some us, such charm never went out of fashion!) I recently met a delightful woman at a wedding event who has a clever new business; she rents out “vintage mismatched fine china” for special events—like for your bridesmaid luncheon or wedding reception. Vanessa Gilbreath is English, ‘natch, and the treasures you can rent are from sets of beautiful china she inherited from her mother, grandmother and great-aunt ... all reminiscent of English flower gardens.

Like a lot of people who watched Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding and were inspired by the brides bouquet or lace-trimmed gown or veil or serene bearing, Vanessa’s idea for her Vintage English Teacup business was also inspired by this splendid yet intimate royal wedding. (And the table designs that can be created with Vanessas plates and teacups and other pretty things are something I’m sure Duchess Catherine would love!) 

Wherever your inspiration comes from for your wedding, be sure to include the elegance and beauty that calls forth your delicious imagination as well as your royally open heart!

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

[Images from Vintage English Teacup website]

July 29, 2015

{Bring Intimacy Back to Weddings}

Dear Bride-to-Be
“Weddings are increasingly notable for their amazing lack of intimacy, their evolution into industry,” commentator Jacki Lyden wrote in a report for NPR several years ago. And in our overly-commercialized, up-noised, garish culture, I share this idea over and over in an attempt to urge couples to “look inside” and follow their hearts first when planning their wedding.

In my book for same-sex couples (The Handkerchief Has Been Thrown!—just re-published in print form), I remind the reader of this dilemma. Suggesting ways to return intimacy to the wedding celebration, I encourage gay and lesbian couples to not just follow the fashion of “traditional” weddings, but to set a new standard inspiring all ceremonies to be more real and from the heart.

Unfortunately, Bridal Expos—those big gatherings that bring wedding vendors together with potential brides, grooms and assorted entourages—tend to boost the commercial, big-sexy-party aspect of modern weddings. (I was invited to have a book signing at a first-of-its-kind Same-Sex Wedding Expo recently. Aaaargh!! The epitome of “lack of intimacy.” Please guys, you can do better!)

Whether you’re marrying a man or a woman; whether your wedding is teensy-tiny or ballroom huge; whether you’re on a mountaintop or in a grand cathedral, you may want to hear what journalist S. Bryan Lowder has to say:  “I’m a gay man who wants to get married. But how do I have a wedding that’s not so … straight?” In other words, you don’t have to copy-cat the matchy-matchy, ho-hum aesthetic of many mainstream weddings—trends that have squeezed all the depth and intimacy out of the ceremony and celebratory festivities.

So, planning a wedding? Just don’t forget to bring your good taste, good sense, and especially your good heart along with you!

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

[Couples photograph: Courtesy of Martha Stewart Weddings]

The Handkerchief Has Been Thrown! 
Something Old & Something New for Same-Sex Couples 
is available on Amazon.

July 8, 2015

{Princesses, Heiresses and Weddings}

Dear Bride-to-Be: 
I thought youd enjoy my article published in the summer issue of Season Magazine. Click here to read it from the online magazine...and Ive reprinted it below. ’Tis an excerpt from my new book The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride {Volume One} For Better or Worse, How Princess Diana Rescued the Great White Wedding.

Princesses, Heiresses and Weddings

“We knew that we wanted Diana to have a large bouquet,” explained her gown designers David and Elizabeth Emanuel. “The scale of the dress meant that a small one would have simply disappeared.” With the universal appeal of Princess Diana’s shimmering wedding in the summer of 1981, over-sized, shower-style bridal bouquets became the fashion. (Of course, most things in the glitzy, high-flying ‘80s were on a grander scale!)

Almost a hundred years earlier, Princess May of Teck (who became Queen Mary, Prince Charles’ great-grandmother), started a similar trend when she carried a huge, cascading bouquet for her 1893 wedding to the future King George V. It was called “a modern touch” because its “shape had only recently ousted the posy,” shared historian Ann Monsarrat. The 19th century English journal Manners for Women attributed this “extravagant fashion to the influx of heiresses from the New World into British society through marriage.” These were daughters of the nouveau riche of the Gilded Age who took their fathers’ immense wealth abroad between the 1870s and early1920s to marry cash-strapped noblemen, like the character of Cora Crawley on Downton Abbey. They not only rescued a way of life for the British aristocracy—at least for a few years—but also lent their opulent taste to wedding celebrations.

Charles Frederick Worth, an Englishman who set up shop in Paris, became the father of modern couture—and a favorite designer of these rich American girls who in turn became famous for their expensive Worth wardrobes and diamond tiaras. They spent thousands every season at his salon and when the time came, ordered a dazzling wedding gown and fancy trousseau. Consuelo Vanderbilt, Jennie Jerome and Frances Ellen Work (Princess Diana’s maternal great-grandmother) were three of those nearly 500 heiresses from America who put their glittering mark on weddings.

During this time most British princess brides followed Queen Victoria’s lead and, instead of wearing one of the many diamond tiaras at their disposal, opted for the more sentimental choice of an elaborate, yet rather humble, bridal crown made of wax orange blossoms. However, many of the American heiress brides, more into opulence than sentiment, wore diamond tiaras—usually a gift from their father. 

Perhaps to make a proclamation all their own, several Windsor brides of the 20th century (namely Princesses Marina, Elizabeth, Margaret and Anne) also broke with the orange blossom tradition and chose diamonds for their hair—large, old, spectacular ones. So for her wedding, Lady Diana followed suit by wearing the Spencer family tiara: a whimsical floral design in gold, silver and heirloom diamonds. (And as far as I could tell, there was not an orange blossom in sight!)

Weddings have always been a time to dress up, make a statement and dress like a princess. As author Carol McD. Wallace shared: “If a wedding isn’t the ultimate chance to show off, what exactly is it?” ~

June 29, 2015

{Flowers and Their Meanings}

Dear Bride-to-Be
Brides and the language of flowers have a romantic and mystical heritage. Through the ages, sentimental folks assigned meanings to flowers and herbs according to their innate nature—and a language was created.

Bridal folklore throughout history, inspired by goddess mythology, tells of maidens entwining creamy white, aromatic orange blossoms into a bridal wreath for their hair, to ensure fertility; or carrying a bunch of sweet smelling white lilacs, representing innocence; or tucking fragrant herbs into their bouquets, rosemary for remembrance and dill, believed to provoke lust. Both herbs were also eaten for their supposed powers!

So whatever flowers you are carrying or wearing or displaying at your wedding, consider their folklore and mystery and romance (like from Kate Greenaway’s Language of Flowers)—because sometimes knowing the ancient story of something, especially flowers, opens up some “fragrant” yummy-ness in the present...perhaps even opening your heart to give and receive more tenderness!

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

June 16, 2015

{Victoria's Choice}

Dear Bride-to-Be
If you know one thing about “wedding gown history,” I would wager that it has something to do with Queen Victoria starting the fashion for brides to wear white(And now, thanks to Victoria, it has been a tradition for 175 years.) But I would also wager that most people don’t know the real reason the 20-year-old monarch broke the precedent set by earlier royal brides (who usually wore cloths of silver or gold) and chose the color white—she even chose a wax orange blossom crown instead of a dazzling diamond diadem!

Her choice has been regarded as representing simplicity, modesty and purity—and indeed the young queen was sentimental and had an “uncluttered fashion preference,” according to costume historians. However, Victoria was deeply in love, and this became her guiding inspiration for her wedding attire. So with much considerationtaking into account her duty, her position and her subjects—nonetheless, “the queen decided to make her marriage vows to her ‘precious Angel’ as his future wife rather than as the monarch,” wrote curator Edwina Ehrman. Or as author Kay Staniland explained: Victoria decided “her role on her wedding day was primarily that of a bride” and opted against, not only wearing the silver and gold of royalty, but also chose not to wear her queenly crimson velvet robe of state, feeling “it would only emphasize her seniority, and overshadow the role of her future husband.” (And come the day of the wedding, Victoria’s adoring subjects happily received their queens choices!) 

Whatever you choose to wear on your wedding day, keep your relationship your first priority…and let the frills of fashion follow that. (Its the queenly thing to do!) Of course you’re going to look beautiful…because a woman in love becomes her own spotlight.

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

[This post inspired by my new book, The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride {Volume One} For Better or Worse, How Princess Diana Rescued the Great White Wedding ... available at Amazon. I think you will enjoy it!]

May 29, 2015

{The Princess Myth}

Dear Bride-to-Be
In my new book, The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride, I write about the origin and mysteries of the “princess myth”—the underlying desire of women to feel and look like a princess. From my experiences working with thousands of brides through the years, I share how this desire influences many women when planning their wedding and, in some cases, it’s the core reason some want to be a bride! This “princess” desire—stirred by royal brides to Disney princesses—can work to deepen your feminine strength...your goddess nature; or it can move you to live in a fractured fairy tale of illusion and disappointment.

So a recent article in Vogue Daily about wedding gowns caught my eye: “The Cool Girl’s Guide to Wedding Shopping.” It shares that “while there’s nothing wrong with wanting to go traditional, not every bride dreams of a dress of Disney-princess proportions.” The article features colorful, floral, unfussy designer dresses—not a crinoline or corset or pouf in sight! (Of course what’s considered “traditional” hasn’t always been, well, “traditional”—you’ll find intriguing stories in my book.)

Yes, we’re all affected by what’s “fashionable”—even if we’re rebels or free-spirits! So keep that in mind when shopping for a wedding dress: Is it the latest fashion that’s tugging at your heart or maybe 'tis some once-upon-a-time “princess” yearning? Or perhaps something deeper happens when you try on the dress? Something more akin to: “I feel like a destiny-shaping goddess…inside and out!”

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

ps: I think you’ll enjoy the various stories and examples in my new book about how this “princess myth” lives in our modern culture…and perhaps you’ll see yourself in one of them! The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride {Volume One} For Better or Worse, How Princess Diana Rescued the Great White Wedding is available at

[Image above from 1970s Gunne Sax, Jessica McClintock Inc.] 

May 17, 2015

{Felt With the Heart}

Dear Bride-to-Be
I always find my customers and audiences curious about the origin of wedding rituals: tossing the garter; exchanging rings; the “something old, something new” rhyme; the bride’s bouquet. These are rituals and traditions so familiar, even comforting, that we’ve accepted them into our modern celebrations—yet a mystery remains. Their origins are hazy; different societies added different meanings and their practice usually took a meandering path through the centuries, making some hard to trace. Wedding traditions, as author Carol McD. Wallace shares, have “complicated roots.” That’s why I consider all wedding rituals a kind of fairy tale: folklore from our heritage revealing itself a bit mysteriously.

So as a bride, whatever rituals you choose for your wedding, choose from the wise part of your mind and the generous part of your heart … then you will surely create a wedding celebration full of love and beauty! As Helen Keller reminded us: The best and most beautiful things in this world cannot be seen or even heard, but must be felt with the heart.

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

[Excerpted from my new book, The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride {Volume One} For Better or Worse, How Princess Diana Rescued the Great White Wedding.]

April 20, 2015

{A Downton Abbey Wedding}

Dear Bride-to-Be
Couples choose the site for their wedding for all sorts of reasons: sentiment, religious beliefs, intimacy, prestige, to get away from the world, or perhaps to include the people in their world with elegance and grace.

An article in Town and Country magazine recently shared: “What It’s Like to Get Married at Downton Abbey.” With beautiful photographs and text, it showed the splendor this particular American couple chose to incorporate into their English countryside wedding weekend, including using grand historical sites.

Wherever your heart takes you for a wedding location, whether humble or opulent, chose where you feel an intimate sense of place—inclusive of others, expansive of spirit, and a place that fills your heart with the joy of coming home.

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

[Images courtesy of Town and Country Magazine] 

April 2, 2015

{The Honey Month}

I thought you’d like to read an excerpt from my new book, The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride ... “The Honey Month” appears in the spring issue of Season Magazine. (With things about the honeymoon that I bet you didnt know!) Enjoy.

 The Honey Month

The word “honeymoon,” in use since the sixteenth century as British historian Ann Monsarrat explains, is a derivation of a much older term, “honey-month,” describing the first weeks of the newlyweds’ life together at home, or at the home of friends or family, with the not so subtle intent of ensuring offspring. But these were considered rather “low-class words.” So beginning in the eighteenth century, when it became fashionable for well-to-do couples to take some sort of trip following their wedding festivities, the occasion was called “going away,” thought a more genteel expression. 

There’s a bit of intrigue associating the honey in “honeymoon” and the ancient legend of the honeybee’s luscious nectar with love and sex. In her book, The Hive: The Story of the Honeybee and Us, Bee Wilson muses how human civilization would have barely survived without the honeybee: its wax was used to create light in a dark world and its honey gave nourishment and medicine. But the honeybee also provided poetic mystery and “food for love”—from the devilish to the divine:

It is “sweet, like true love, and delicious, like carnal love, honey can be treacherous and sticky, like false love,” the author asserts. And there’s more. Its thick, syrupy-ness brings up a “dark side of human desire”—like this from Proverbs in the Bible: ‘the lips of an adulteress drip honey and her tongue is smoother than oil’. Yet “pure honey is precious and good, like married love”—as this line from the poem Rob Roy by Andrew Lang suggests: ‘Or will ye be my honey? / Or will ye be my wedded wife?’

Some believe the term “honeymoon” relates to the ancient Viking ritual when, for their aphrodisiac effects, “the bride and groom would eat honeyed cakes and drink mead for the first month of their betrothal”—truly a honey-month! However, the connection to honey and the name honeymoon or its true meaning “cannot be agreed upon.” Like most early rituals there are hazy origin myths, but what we know for sure is that “the use of honey in marriage rites has been a constant throughout the Indo-European world, and beyond.” (As in an age-old Egyptian marriage contract where the husband promised his wife a yearly gift of twelve jars of honey; or in archaic Hindu wedding ceremonies where the bride’s lips, ears “and beyond” were anointed with the nectar.)

Do we really “fall in love” or do we just “fall into a honeypot”? Do we meet our beloved by chance or are we stung by Cupid’s honey-soaked arrow? In stories of mythology, honey certainly plays its delicious part in romance. Becoming known as the young god of love, Cupid—the son of Venus, the Roman goddess of love, and Mars, the god of war—is not only famous for stealing honeycombs, but he also “fires arrows at his victims, sometimes dipped in honey” and they instantly fall in love with the next person they meet.  Honeypot, indeed! ~