chicken dance

Susan Schneider's 5 Do's and a Do-Over

Doesn't everyone love a good wedding?  Beautiful wedding dresses, not so beautiful bridesmaids dresses, plenty of alcohol and the chicken dance.  What's not to like? And no one knows weddings like author Susan Schneider.  She's the former executive editor of Modern Bride and Elegant Bride and has spent the last ten years getting engaged women ready for their big day. So when we saw she had written a book about, what else, the bridal industry, we knew it would be a lot of fun!

Here's the scoop on The Wedding Writer:

Lucky Quinn writes up weddings for one of the hottest bridal magazines. And it wasn’t easy to get there. From humble beginnings, she outsmarted her way into the center of New York’s glamorous magazine industry – making up for her background with a sharp mind, whip-thin physique, and ceaseless ambition.

Then, in one day, her life is utterly transformed; two of the magazine’s major competitors fold, and Lucky is named Editor-in-Chief, replacing the formidable, but aging Grace Ralston, who had been at the magazine’s helm from day one. Grace taught Lucky everything she knows, but now it seems that she taught her too well…

As the ripples of Lucky’s promotion spread, the intricate lives of four women begin to unfold. Felice, Your Wedding’s elegant and unshakeable Art Director is now being shaken for the first time by troubles at home. Sara, the Fashion Director, is famed for her eagle eye for fashion trends and exquisite hair. But, for all her know-how, “the Angel of Bridal” has never come close to starring in a wedding herself – she’s picked the dress, but where’s the groom? Grace, recovering in the wake of her sudden, humiliating fall from power, must learn to accept herself – and love – after a life dedicated to fulfilling other women’s dreams. And, through it all, Lucky begins to discover just how lonely the top really is.

Sound good to you?  Then leave a comment and you'll be entered to win one of FIVE copies!  We'll choose the winners on Sunday August 21 after 6pm PST.


5 DO'S

1. Do be cranky. For a while I was almost afraid to say I hated Facebook. Voicing this opinion made me sound so uncool--not to mention, old. Quel horreur! But honestly,it is a great, big, fat waste of time. I know that other people find it enthralling. Sadly, I've found I can be just as enthralled as anyone else. I can sit and mindlessly click around Facebook for hours on end. So I tell myself--and everyone--how much I hate it. This is simple but effective behavior modification because it breaks the spell, making it easier for me to write, read, talk to my daughter, take a walk, shoe shop, and whatever else is good, clean fun.

2. Do be brave. I tend to be shy. Low self-esteem? Absolutely. So when it came to promoting The Wedding Writer, I was utterly mortified. However, publishers expect you to put on your PR hat and get out there wearing a sandwich board. Stand in line for a movie and while you're at it, hand out business cards. Hit people over the head until they swear they'll buy your book, read it all in one sitting and LOVE it. These things are difficult for shy people. What to do? Well, in the words of my daughter and her boyfriend, "The hard sell is so uncool. Be subtle. Don't turn people off." OK! Out of the mouths of babes. Subtle, I can be. (At the same time, avoid putting a paper bag over your head--be proud!)

3. Do allow your personality to widen, broaden, and deepen. Most of us women are so much more than we let on. To be very honest, I had to get older before I could appreciate myself. I was so caught up in what I looked like, sounded like, felt like, and who was looking at me and what they were thinking, and why some guy didn't call me back when he said he would, and why someone else was thinner or more successful...all of this is just as much a waste of time as Facebook.

4. Do be kind. The Dalai Lama said, "Kindness is my religion." I love that! I am one of those New Yorkers who always gives change to street musicians. I'm a softie in a tough town. I feel that most people try really, really hard, and life knocks us down a lot.  I've been through a divorce and raised a child by myself. My sister had cancer. I know people my age who've died. So let's be kind to each other. We aren't here for all that long.

5. Do take yourself seriously (but not always). If you have something you really want to do--write? paint? travel? read War and Peace? sew your own wedding dress?--then do it. Ignore people who try to undermine you. At the same time laugh at yourself and how hard you strive. A yoga teacher once pointed out to me that I'm a "striver." I'm always "efforting" (not a real word, but we know what she means). I've found that life should be part striving and part letting go. Not easy, but worth thinking about.

DO-OVER I'd like to take back all the time I've spent being critical of myself and others. It probably amounts to about a third of my life. I could have written at least three more novels by now. But you can't do it over, you can only use what you know right now. This very moment. I vow never to be self-critical again!

Thanks Susan! xo, L&L

To read more about Susan, head on over to her The Wedding Writer or find her on Twitter.

Mommy Monday by Liz

Over the years, I've found myself in A LOT of wedding parties.  I always seem to snag that last bridesmaid spot, edging out a distant cousin or a old friend who just hasn't been pulling their weight the past couple of years. In fact, if my writing career doesn't work out, I've always thought I could rent myself out to desperate brides who are lacking a bulldog bridesmaid.  Because doesn't every bride need a McGyver on their team on their big day? Someone who can perform miracles with a safety pin but who will also do tequila shots and the chicken dance?

When I said "I Do" last Fall when Lisa asked me to be her MOH, I felt slightly panicked.  It had been a while since my last tour of duty and I wondered if I still had it in me.  The last time I had served, I had been three months pregnant with my son and had to have my purple chiffon dress taken out more times than I care to admit and secretly worried I might throw up on my bride if the wrong smell crossed my path.  But on that special day, I put my 24/7 nauseousness aside and bustled like nobody's business.  And as I waved goodbye to them as they sped off in their limo to their honeymoon, I sighed and decided it was time to retire my status as perpetual wedding party member.  Putting all that work in without the free drink payoff just didn't feel the same.

But when Lisa got engaged, I was ready. I'd had four years off and was ready to get back on the wedding party circuit-and the fact that I'd be reporting to a couple that I adored was just a bonus.  And for the most part, Lisa was the most easygoing bride I had ever worked for.  She let me choose my own dress and didn't make me have big ol' prom hair.  In fact, she really didn't make me do much of anything before the big day.  But I think that deep down, we both knew that was because she wanted me to be ready for battle when it counted.  And I was!  That morning, I wrangled guests, acted a photographer and DJ in the bridal suite and even held my tongue when I had my makeup done (She was great-but because of my alligator skin I gave "pancake face" a whole new meaning!).  I had my A game on people!

Until my children showed up.

When Lisa generously asked my three and five-year olds to be in her wedding party, little did I know that having them there might mess up my MOHness.  I was too blinded by visions of them floating down the aisle in their Sunday best, although the reality included, me, bent over, walking down the aisle with them while begging my daughter to throw just ONE damn flower.

So when they showed up in the bridal suite, demanding my attention, I was torn.  I had made a commitment to serve my bride.  How did I merge that with the fact that my daughter was walking around with her gold ballet slippers on the wrong feet and wanted to color on her cream tights? Or the guilt I felt when I whacked my three-year-old's head with my papparazzi camera as I tried to get the money shot of Lisa's toast at the rehearsal dinner the night before?

So when crunch time arrived, I was a bit flustered.  Trying to smile as the photographer snapped pictures of me applying Lisa's lipstick, (What can I say, I'm a full-service MOH!) I prayed that he'd crop out the crying child hanging on to my leg and begging to come play "just one game" of Old Maid. And I'm crossing my fingers that my son was too busy with his hot wheels to notice that I drank half the bottle of "Mommy apple juice".

But at the end of the day, we all had a wonderful time. Thanks to a great friend, the hubs and I were able to party that night with our peeps in peace and sleep in the next morning. (Thanks Patrice!) And even though it was way more stressful to have my little rugrats taking part of Lisa's big day than if they had stayed home, I wouldn't have wanted it any other way.

I'll never forget how it felt to hear my daughter take a deep breath in when she saw Lisa for the first time in her (gorgeous!) dress or the way my son shyly watched her from the doorway as we arranged her veil.  I'm always amazed by how much more work everything is when the kids are involved, but at the same time infinitely more rewarding. As always, the joys of parenting are always in the little things.

xo, Liz