On Monday, I featured one young woman’s perspective on the world of contemporary dating.

Today, I decided to interview Xavier Garcia, one of my bosses here at Nieubreed, about his take on the scene. His view is admittedly more critical, but it serves as a good wake-up call to people nowadays who may have become too accustomed with being careless in regards to relationships (hope you enjoy the random pictures of famous happy couples spliced in…oh I am quite fond of the Muppets)…

“Unfortunately in today’s American culture, we’re slowly losing the whole aspect of dating and (traditionally) what dating is supposed to be. I’m talking completely gone. The whole concept of chivalry has been diluted by what you see on TV…diluted by a mixture of the MTV generation, hip hop and time. Plain and simple, time. Time has an intriguing ability to weather away things that you’d think are constants and solids….even deeply rooted traditions. For example, how often do you see a guy open a car door for a girl while on a date and graciously let her in a la stage-coach? Or it’s like you look into a crowd of people and you watch couples and you’ve got the guy sprinting ahead with the woman trying to catch up behind him, pulled by an invisible leash of desperation while she struggles to keep up with her “too cool” boyfriend.

harry-sally-topper

Harry & Sally

When we were at the Boston Commons playing football the other day, there was this dude and this girl walking across the middle of the field. They were trying to get across, right in the middle of the game, to some of the restaurants that were on the other side of the street. The dude was literally sprint-walking across the field (all the while maintaining his swagger) while the girl in her heels was left behind to struggle against the terrain as every step sunk her deeper into the soft grass. She could have very easily been slapped in the face by football while the guy was safely on the other side, beckoning for her to come hither. I sat there amazed as thoughts overtook my mind with wonder as to where has the sense of protection gone? The sense of being a gentleman? It just doesn’t exist.

lucy

Lucy & Desi

Now how does this translate to the dating world? With today’s youth, they see dating as a precursor to “getting some.” As the means to the “end.” And what is the end exactly? I suppose that depends on the perspective. But If you’re looking at it from a hip-hop generation’s point of view (women are just as guilty as men of this in today’s young American culture), it may not be what traditionally has been the case. We’re so conditioned to relate with the Jay-Z, Puffy, or Kanye: “I’ve got bling, I’ve got power and I’ve got girls” mentality that we lose focus on what the whole concept of dating is actually supposed to accomplish. Perhaps an exploration and a soul searching of each other? Dare i say to get to know each other and understand each other?

muppets-kermit-miss-piggy_l

Miss Piggy & Kermit

The whole dating process from beginning to end should be (and used to be) a mutual agreement that a working union of two involved work and work involved phases, steps, goals, etc. Something similar to climbing a ladder. Each rung would signify the next step in the relationship and as you climb up you get closer to the ultimate goal where one would find marriage (OMG!!! The DIRTY word). Perhaps you don’t go into every relationship feverishly fixed upon that final goal of marriage, but you are supposed to take it as “the next step is _____ on this ladder…now how do we get to that next step together?”

wilma-flintstone

Wilma & Fred

Now, I’m not even gonna get into college dating, because that’s just a big fiasco.
But understand that in any situation, any location, at any point in time, at any point of your life, whether high school, college, grad school or your professional life (yes, I do not think that kids should be dating before high school..they should be playing with their X Men figures, flashlight tag, Barbie Dolls or bombardment!!), it shouldn’t matter the situation…you can always make that extra effort to treat your girlfriend like she’s truly special. I just don’t see an excuse for acting otherwise. I think any real man would take a look at “his girl” and realize she’s a daughter or perhaps a sister to somebody – and what if that somebody was you?

casablanca

Rick & Ilsa

She’s somebody’s little princess. And maybe someday you’ll expect the same of the man that comes to court your own daughter (Haha, courtship! Remember that?). Yet we live in this vicious cycle of overprotective and over bearing brothers & fathers who lay judgment upon their little girl’s every move based upon painful memories of an unsuccessful dating history.

X&ReneewithPalmtree

Renee & Xavier

Culture and identity is very easily skewed, very easily influenced by external forces. So how do we remedy this? Can we ever get back to the days of holding hands, no kissing on a first date, having her back by 8pm and other such Pleasantville-like rules, at least in the initial phases of dating? Well, in words that an MTV-raised youth would understand, “man up!” Treat your ladies with respect because 90% of the time, you don’t know how good you have it until you lose it (an oh-so-true cliche). Let’s not compromise our values. Your manhood is NOT measured by your locker room stories. Nobody cares how insecure you are and how you try to cover that up with your bravado when mistreating your mate. Dating leads to finding love and love is NO JOKE. Greater and bigger men have died for such a complex concept, world religions were birthed on this notion, and nations came together because of this credence… I think it’s time we no longer took this thing so lightly.”

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Dating = Shopping

July 27, 2009

Sorry it’s been a while since my last blog post, folks. Things have been hopping around the office. However, it’s a brand new week and I’ve got a brand new topic to discuss…and this one is quite intriguing (and has nothing to do with reality television, I promise).

The other week, I was discussing dating with Xavier (we were getting lots of work done at the same time, of course). He was remarking that so many things seem a bit jumbled in regards to “relationships” nowadays. It seems that people partake in one of two extremes: either meaningless…ahem…”romps” with no strings attached, or jumping into a super serious marriage-y relationship right away (although the first one seems to be the most popular). The whole going-on-a-date to end-of-the-night-kiss to maybe-being-asked-out-on-another-date to spending-quality-time-getting-to-know-each-other trajectory doesn’t seem to hold true anymore (but perhaps we’re just a bit out of touch and this scenario is a tad too “Pleasantville” for contemporary society?)

I think the majority of college kids can vouch for the fact that this holds especially true at school. Although it might initially seem that most people have comfortably subscribed to this new form of “dating”, after getting in touch with my friends asking for their opinions on the topic, I have found that this isn’t so much the case. No matter what their viewpoints, everyone seems to have a lot to say about the topic.

I’ll try to run a different person’s take on the subject over these next few days. I’m starting off with an entertaining yet thought provoking spin on the prospect of dating, supplied by one of my very dear friends from school. Basically, dating = shopping. Intrigued? Of course you are! Read on…

“Since graduating college, I have had a lot of experience in the “dating” world, if that is what you would like to call it. I have gone on dates with guys that I met through a variety of different arenas – college, speed dating, even through my grandparents (oy vey I know I know). And while each man – granted, they are not all men yet – was unique, I seemed to encounter the same dilemma every time; he was either nice and sweet but not in the least exciting, or he was adventurous and captivating but merely trying to get me tanked and in the sack. This put me in a limbo – an internal struggle with myself –; who do I choose? Who is right for me?

Believe it or not, this is how I feel when I go shopping. Let me explain. I have two favorite stores: Barney’s and Target. I also love to shop. Sounds like a perfect situation. However, I have a limited bank account. So I usually need to decide what it is I really need and also what I really want. Although I can’t resist the perfect designer dress from Barney’s, at the same time I know I need my basic tee’s from Target. So do I spend my life taking risks and splurging on a few couture pieces here and there, or do I stay practical, save my money, and fill my closet with the basics? Similarly, do I take a gamble with the bad boy or do I tone it down with the nice guy albeit sacrificing chemistry and passion?

The answer…neither. I realized that although I have spent a lot of time shopping around for both clothes and guys, and that I don’t necessarily always find what I am looking for, sometimes I do discover a hidden gem. The perfect compromise – kind of like the Diane Von Furstenberg top I got for only $50 on sale (which I do get a lot of wear out of by the way). Not everyone has the best of luck finding what they want and need. Some of us ladies need to spend more time than others trying things on. But I believe in fate and I know there is a fairy tale ending for all of us. My DVF top and I found each other, so I know that I will be able to find that one guy who is perfect for me, even though I may need to make some small sacrifices along the way. To all the actively dating ladies out there, I know it’s a stressful and sometimes brutal scene, but I promise you WILL find your perfect fit.”

Fun First Dance Songs

July 16, 2009

At most weddings, the first dance is one of the most pivotal moments of the entire day, probably right below the exchanging of vows, and right above cutting the cake.  Some couples take the traditional route in choosing their first song, selecting Faith Hill or Shania Twain power ballads to mark this occasion. This is all fine and dandy (although you most likely will be judged if you choose “My Heart Will Go On” or “Can You Feel the Love Tonight”—I’ve seen it, and it ain’t pretty), but why not have a little fun with your pick? It’s definitely feasible to be classy and original at the same time.

The Knot recently featured a list of “30 Hip First Dance Songs” to help you with this endeavor. Although most of the choices are fantastic options, I had to wonder about a few, such as Sarah Mclachlan’s “Ice Cream” (sample lyrics: “Your love is better than ice cream…everyone here know how to fight”—whaa?) and Prince’s “If I Was Your Girlfriend” (I know he’s an amazing artist and all, but some of those lyrics seem just a bit too salacious to be featured in a first dance song… in my humble opinion, awkwardness should not be part of that moment).  Otherwise, Stevie Wonder? Phish? U2? How could you go wrong?

And if you’re really up for making your first dance memorable, just take a cue from this fiesty duo: Best Wedding Dance Ever. They set out to make their first dance memorable, and I’d say that they were pretty successful.

Don’t Tell the Bride

July 15, 2009

And now another post about reality television. You may have assumed that the recent absence of such topics meant that I was cured of my shameful addiction. Not quite. I have relapsed, and it has taken the form of “Don’t Tell The Bride”, a show airing on BBC America Fridays at 9/8c.

(http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/ouch/2009/05/bbc_three_show_looking_for_cou.html)

The show starts off with an exciting premise—an engaged couple gets $20,000 to plan their wedding. Awesome, right? The catch? The groom is in charge of planning absolutely everything. The bride is not allowed to have any say in the matter. They even sign a contract which stipulates that the bride and groom may have absolutely no form of contact with each other for a month prior to the event. This show means business! I’m sure the brides are seething the entire time, but the possibility of getting sued is usually reason enough for keeping one’s mouth shut.

The men definitely encounter many snags along the way. In one episode, the groom thoughtfully decides to design his wife’s wedding gown. His vision? A goth-inspired travesty complete with a red corset and red lace. He eventually acquiesces to his appalled mother’s pleas to get a more traditional dress instead, thus probably saving the marriage. Good job, mom.

There is certainly not a lack of cringe-worthy Bridezilla moments. Some brides quickly adopt the persona of bratty toddlers when they realize things aren’t going their way. It’s quite entertaining.

Overall, though, the weddings (usually) turn out okay and the couples realize (*cue the romantic strings playing in the background*) that marriage is about far more than just this single day. And your husband’s plans to have a BBQ reception are no reason to kick him to the curb…always a good thing to remember.

Wedding Traditions

July 13, 2009

For most people, their wedding day will forevermore be remembered as one of the most important days of their lives (apart from the births of their children and perhaps college graduation—“yes ma! the six figure bill was worth it…I think!”)

Because of the considerable significance of this event, different cultures have attached various special trends and traditions to this occasion. The ‘something old, something new…’ adage is always a good standby, but check out the unique ways in which other cultures celebrate the Big Day…

– At Greek weddings, it is common for guests to pin money to a bride’s dress during the reception (quite the fashion statement); they also partake in a considerable amount of dish-smashing in celebration of the joyous occasion…definitely not for the faint of heart

My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002)

My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002)

– In Fiji, the groom presents a gift to his new father-in-law, usually a whale’s tooth, which symbolizes status and wealth

– Most people are familiar with the prominence of leis in Hawaiian culture— during a wedding, the bride and groom wear them to represent love and respect

– A Filipino tradition involves the bride’s veil being pinned to the groom’s shoulder, which represents two people coming together as one (in case this seems a bit uncomfortable, many couples also opt to incorporate a unity candle into their ceremony to represent this same sentiment)

– In Estonia, there is a (presumably wildly entertaining) wedding tradition for the groom that is part bouquet toss, part pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey (intriguing, huh?) In order to find out who the next groom will be (there’s no garter toss here!), the groom is blindfolded and spun around by all the single men in attendance; in a fit of dizziness, he places his top hat on a lucky guy and proclaims him the next one to be married

There are so many other fascinating wedding day customs practiced by different cultures. This is definitely a topic I’d like to explore even more in the future. Please contact me if you would like to share any special traditions that you are familiar with.

Ok, it’s a Monday. Ugh. Back to work for me.

New Trends for 2010

July 10, 2009

Do you have crippling fears of not being hip and trendy enough on your wedding day?? (Probably not, but melodramatic lead ins are going to be a frequent occurrence as far as these blog posts go).

Never fear- InStyle Weddings has compiled a list of Hot Wedding Trends for 2010 for those of you who are wondering how to add a contemporary touch to your big day. Most of them are based off of celebrity weddings, so let’s just hope those kooky starlets know what they’re doing.

Apparently landscape centerpieces are all the rage now. I guess hydrangeas and freesia are old news. This site features a centerpiece of moss, tree bark and mushrooms. Mmm. I’m not quite set on that less-than-lovely medley of things I could weed up from my backyard, but perhaps this could work for more earthy folks.

centerpiece

These experts also say that veils are back in. I was unaware that they had ever been out! Anything that can help to cover my massive noggin will always get the green light from me!

Finally, what’s better than one wedding cake? Two wedding cakes, of course! My incurable sweet tooth is probably what makes this suggestion my favorite by far. Groom’s cakes are becoming all the rage now. Most guys probably aren’t bowled over by the frou frou floral design of the main wedding cake, so I say let them have their own! Popular grooms cakes include Playstations, football stadiums and Coors Light cans (but the last is reserved for only the most upscale of gentlemen).

beer

(http://groomsadvice.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/coorscake.jpg)

Ah now I have a severe sugar craving. Must be off to fix that…

Wedding Quiz

July 9, 2009

The Today Show has wedding fever.

For the last month or so (I feel as though that’s an accurate estimate, merely based upon my half-awake assessment of the show when I watch it in the morning before work), the morning news program has been hosting their 10th annual “Today Throws a Wedding” series. The first half of the series involves four couples being whittled down to one through a  bunch of fairly amusing competitions. In the second half, different choices of gowns, honeymoons and rings are presented and Today viewers are allowed to vote for the winning picks. Thus, the couple has basically no say in how their wedding will turn out, but they get it all for free. Doesn’t sound like too shabby of a deal to me.

In honor of all this wedding hullabaloo, the Today show posted a fun little wedding quiz. Test your celebrity matrimony knowledge with the following questions (answers can be found on the site):

1) What movie did Michelle and Barack Obama see on their first date?

a) “Inside Man”

b) “She’s Gotta Have It”

c) “Do the Right Thing”

d) “All the President’s Men”

Barack & Michelle Obama

Barack & Michelle Obama

Source: People Magazine

***

2) How long were Ronald and Nancy Reagan married for?

a) 50 years

b) 52 years

c) 58 years

d) 46 years

***

3) According to the JFK Presidential Library, how many people attended the 1953 wedding of Jackie & JFK?

a) 200

b) 500

c) 800

d) 75

***

4) Before Laura and George Bush were married in 1977, how long was their courtship?

a) 1 year

b) 6 months

c) 3 months

d) 3 years

Wedding Favors

July 8, 2009

Gone are the days (hopefully) when the bride and groom gave away mini votives inscribed with their names to their wedding guests as favors. Why on earth would guests want a candle with someone else’s name on it anyway? Is that really going to come in handy?

With all of the resources out there nowadays, there is no excuse not to give your guests something delightfully unique that they will genuinely enjoy. I scoured sites such as Americanbridal.com, icestandard.com, favoraffair.com and beaucoup.com to find just a few examples of such treats.

At Americanbridal.com alone, you will find find a variety  of wonderfully unique wedding favors. Yes, most of them are based off of bad puns, but that sort of adds to the endearment. How can anyone resist the “Meant to Bee” ceramic honey pots or the “A Slice of Love” stainless-steel pizza cutter or the “Love-sicle” lightly scented popsicle soap bars? If such a  wacky play on words makes the more traditional couple cringe, there are plenty of slightly less silly favors to choose from on this site as well.

Favoraffair.com has a selection of slightly more upscale favors that still won’t break the bank. The “Sea Glass Luminary” is absolutely lovely. If you want to find favors specifically for male guests, the “Shaken Not Stirred” martini salt and pepper shakers are a lot of fun, as are the “Hot Off the Grill” place cards/photo holders.

Along with all the photographs, wedding favors serve as little trinkets that guests can rely on to remember all the fun of the wedding day. You don’t have to be over the top, but remember to use some creativity and humor when deciding what guests will be carting home with them, because those “John & Sally Forever” votives are just going to get shoved away into the depths of some abandoned cabinet to collect dust. Not like the “Eat, Drink and Be Married” shot glasses offered on favoraffair.com. Now that’s romantic.

I hope everybody had a lovely 4th of July weekend!

Saturday night, my friends and I trekked into Cambridge and sat down on the bank of the Charles to enjoy the sounds of the Boston Pops and Neil Diamond (I apologize to all those around us who had to suffer through our tone deaf rendition of “Sweet Caroline”, but boy was that fun). Of course, the fireworks were the best part. Regardless of how many times one has seen a fireworks display, it’s always fun to relive your childhood and “ooo” and “ahhh” over the beauteous pyrotechnics.

In honor of America’s birthday, The Knot posted a list of the Top Ten All-American Wedding songs, which they promise, “will please folk, rock, and country lovers alike — “Star-Spangled Banner” not included.” (http://wedding.theknot.com/special-wedding-features/fourth-of-july-wedding-ideas/articles/10-american-wedding-song-ideas.aspx). I’m not quite certain what qualifies these picks as All-American, but perhaps it’s in part because all of the artists were born in the good ol’ U S of A (a fantastic way to keep Canadian Celine Dion  and her melodramatic power ballads off the list).

Coming in at #1 is Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered”, which is always a fun, energetic ditty that could be appropriately inserted into various points of the wedding ceremony or reception. “You Shook Me All Night Long” by AC/DC may be better suited for high school proms than weddings, but it’s still a good selection for bringing out the inner crazy teenagers in your guests. And of course, what wedding would be complete without Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin”? It’s popular to poke fun at the band, but everyone secretly has a soft spot for it in their hearts. Don’t deny it.

Green Honeymoons

July 6, 2009

Green is in.

All the celebs (always the barometers of responsible behavior) have been touting an eco-friendly lifestyle recently. Jennifer Aniston was even quoted as saying, “I take a three-minute shower. I even brush-wash – brush my teeth while I shower. Every two minutes in the shower uses as much water as a person in Africa uses for everything in their life for a whole day.”

Well that’s very nice, but I’m pretty sure the fact that she probably resides in a 100,000 square foot beast of an abode kinda negates the water she saves by brushing her teeth in the shower. But it’s the thought that counts, right?

Anyway, being environmentally conscious is important, laughable celebrity endorsement or not. You may think that it’s difficult or aggravating to integrate eco-friendliness into your daily life. However, there are many ways to go about saving the polar bears from global warming (those adorable furry animals are what motivate me). Planning your honeymoon in a resort that is kind to the environment is a great way for you and your spouse to start a life of green living together.

Hotelito Desconocido

Hotelito Desconocido

(http://www.instyleweddings.com/weddings/gallery/0,,20252676,00.html)

InStyle Weddings features a list of eco-friendly honeymoon destinations, none of which involving roughing it in a shabby tent while fighting off creepy crawlers. These places, located in Mexico, California, Nicaragua and South Africa, are absolutely breathtaking and help to reduce your carbon footprint. Surprisingly, they also seem rather affordable. What’s not to love?

C’mon…do it for the polar bears.