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37 Best Tips to a Happy Marriage

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Emma Arendoski

CEO/Editor at Emmaline Bride
Blogger, author, wife + mother. I love coffee, DIY, handmade + all things wedding. Check out my books: "The Handcrafted Wedding" (2012) and "The Inspired Wedding" (2014). You can also find me blogging at Emmaline Baby.
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When you’re planning your wedding, it’s easy to get lost in a sea of tulle and china patterns and wedding gown styles. It’s important to remember the important part of the big day: marriage. Today we’re sharing thirty-seven tips to a happy marriage that you can put into effect right now, even while you’re engaged. Bookmark this list, Pin it, Tweet it, and Facebook it so you always remember the importance of a happy marriage. A wedding day lasts twenty-four hours; a marriage is forever. While I’ve only been married for five (amazing) years so far, I know this much is true: I’m so blessed to have married such a wonderful spouse and we wish happiness for you, too. So… on to the list!

37 Best Tips to a Happy Marriage

tips to a happy marriage

photo: eric boneske | see the real wedding

1. Marry your best friend.

Your spouse should be your best friend. Your best friend is someone you can get silly in front of. You can be yourself. You can marathon episodes of Gilmore Girls and make fun of the storyline; this person will get equally frustrated with you when Lorelai chooses Christopher over Luke, or Rory ditches Dean (again). Your best friend will go on midnight Taco Bell runs when you’re craving a Chalupa or let you sleep in on Saturday morning to catch up on extra sleep.

2. Respect.

Aretha knew what she was talking about. It’s important to respect your spouse. The meaning of respect is a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.

3. Be generous.

4. Laugh.

I think laughing is a requirement of a happy marriage. Life is too crazy and unpredictable and sometimes your basement will flood in the middle of the night and you’ll need someone to look at, roll your eyes with you, and have a good laugh. Because in life, if you don’t laugh you’ll cry, right?

5. Take care of yourself.

You can’t take good care of someone else if you can’t care of yourself, too. Eat well. Exercise. Look your best. It’s not saying you have to look good to impress them, it’s more about feeling good because when you feel good and have a positive inner glow, it radiates and makes you a happier person. I think happier people have happier marriages because the happiness radiates onto every part of their lives.

6. Date night.

Never stop going on dates together. Here’s a list to help.

7. Be positive.

Don’t say things like, I wish you would or You always or Why do you because it just throws out negativity. If you need to talk about something, use your words in more positive way. Can you please ______ or Would it work with you if we ______ work well.

8. Marathon shows.

There’s something about watching a really good show together in marathon mode (or every night for like, weeks on end) that bring a couple together. It’s fun to watch something together and talk about it, pausing it every so often to refill the coffee or get another scoop of ice cream.

9. Steal a kiss.

When he or she isn’t looking, run over and grab them and give them one of those giant, movie-style kisses. It’ll surprise them and they’ll love it.

10. Always say I Love You.

bride and groom

photo: bri mcdaniel photography | see the real wedding

11. Never go to bed angry.

That’s pretty much the oldest trick in the book.

12. Surprise them with little gifts.

A little something just because is always a sweet way to tell your spouse you were thinking of them. Order flowers and have them delivered just because. Saw something neat on Amazon? Have it delivered and leave it for them when they wake up. It’s like Christmas morning all the time. It can be something small, too, like a ice-cold Pepsi from the grocery store or a York peppermint patty. Those things are amazing. Or make one of these! It’s super sweet.

13. Make the coffee.

Or tea. Or refill the Brita pitcher. Or get the morning cereal ready. Or buy that creamer that tastes like peppermint patties straight from the North Pole. Do something that starts their day on a good foot. Last weekend, Andrew let me sleep in and took Baby Andrew downstairs and played with him; brewed the coffee and when I woke up he had a hot cup ready and waiting for me. I’m not trying to brag but, I mean, totally awesome, right? It’s all about going one extra step to make the other’s day just a little easier.

14. Let them pick the movie.

Or the show. Or the video game. And really get into it and don’t complain. It’s not always up to you; sometimes you need to sit through Alien vs. Predator even if you don’t really get it or watch Prometheus even though you can’t stand watching Charlize Theron prance around in yoga pants for two hours (jeans would have been fine, no?) or play endless games of Halo (and realize that you’re totally killing it at Lockout, if you do say so yourself). But it’s always way more fun when the other person picks what they want because you get to sneak a little peek of them grinning ear to ear because they are loving it and that’s happiness, baby.

15. Clean up after yourself.

Do the dishes. Don’t leave wet towels on the floor. Don’t push the toothpaste from the top of the tube. Don’t do annoying things that make the other person have to clean up after you. And for the record Andrew doesn’t do any of these; I’m learning to not leave clothes around and I’m normally not a messy person but being married makes you mindful of things that could really annoy someone if you just stop caring. So don’t stop picking up after yourself.

16. Put your spouse first.

Always. Every day.

17. Remember your vows.

And don’t just remember them; turn those powerful words into actions.

18. Take care of them when they are sick.

Bring them medicine and a glass of water when they have a headache. Tired after a long day at work? Rub their feet. Are they so tired they can barely move from the couch? Bring them a blanket and let them doze. You know they would do the same for you.

19. Encourage their hobbies.

It’s healthy to have hobbies that are unique from yours; encourage theirs! If they want to do them solo, let them. If they want to let you in on it, give it a try! It might be your new favorite activity together.

20. Exercise.

I mentioned it earlier, but it is worth giving its own subheading. Exercise makes you feel good. Those endorphins get kicking and suddenly the annoying traffic or the weather or the things you didn’t accomplish today just sort of fade into the abyss and you feel rejuvenated. And that means you will have a positive outlook. And that means you’ll radiate happiness and joy and unicorns and rainbows and your significant other will see your happiness and it will rub off on them. Plus, exercise makes you feel super good looking.

21. Spice it up.

Don’t let things get boring; spice up your life every so often. Go out instead of staying in. Order take out instead of cooking. Rent a hilarious movie instead of a drama; pick the thriller instead of the chick flick. Put on that super dark red lipstick one morning and wait until he notices. Wear a skirt instead of pants for the eight hundredth time. Guys, throw on her favorite cologne and then wrap her in a bear hug; tell her how amazing that skirt makes her legs look (and mean it). Try a new hobby together, something exhilarating like riding roller coasters or mountain climbing or kayaking. Plan out a weekend in advance with tons of activities you both love and talk about how much fun it will be all week.

22. Cook.

Learn how. Everyone should know how to cook for themselves and for their significant other. It can be simple or complex, but surprise him or her with a meal and they’ll really appreciate it.

23. Be their biggest fan.

Support them. Show up to their competition. Be in the front row at their rock show. Be at the finish line. Cheer them on. Everyone needs a #1 fan.

24. It not always about you.

One person does not a happy marriage make. It takes two, baby.

25. Money isn’t everything.

I’ve always heard that the number one gripe in marriages is money problems; don’t fight over money. Don’t stress over money. Don’t spend all the money and accuse the other of buying too much or say that you never get to buy anything. Things? Things mean nothing. However, a good marriage is priceless.

26. Compliment the other.

It’s always nice to get a compliment. But giving a compliment, a sincere one that makes the other person feel good, is just common sense. I mean, seriously, you are totally rocking those jeans.

27. Be present.

Today is a new day! A fresh day unto which you can start over. Let today be today, and don’t let the tiny things leak into tomorrow. And those sweet little funny things all equal a big part of your life. That roof leak won’t seem so big and the dishes will totally get cleaned and the laundry pile that seems endless will get washed and your crying baby will eventually fall asleep, promise. Someday you’ll yearn for the days when you had funny little house projects that crept up like annoyances and you’ll wish you had a little crying baby to rock in your arms. So enjoy today, together.

couple together

photo: bri mcdaniel photography | see the real wedding

28. Chat.

Lay in bed early in the morning or late at night and just chat. About stuff. Something funny you read in the paper or heard on the news. About that tv series starting up again on Friday. Tell him how you finally figured out the secret to better tasting coffee, and tell her about the blog you read every morning. Keep it light, and entertaining. Just little quiet chatter before the day begins or before bed. Don’t get so busy that you forget to have real conversations. Even those silly little ones, about whatever. It’s a really fun and easy way to connect.

29. Communicate.

30. Be faithful.

31. Be fun.

Life’s too short to take yourself so seriously all the time. Have fun. Be a fun person to be around. Don’t lose your kid-like sense of humor and whimsy.

32. Me time.

Equal parts of “me” time and “we” time are essential. It’s important to take time out for yourself to do things you enjoy, too.

33. Take a vacation.

Plan a trip together and go. Sometimes you just need a chance of scenery and a chance to kick back and relax. It can be on the cheap or a dream luxurious excursion. Plan ahead and save up, and then enjoy every minute of it. What are you waiting for?

34. Make decisions together.

35. Be someone they can confide in.

They should want to come to you to talk about things. Be someone that will listen. Be a secret keeper. A confidant. Cue the Golden Girls theme.

36. Complain with them.

We all need someone who will listen to our complaints about things that grind our gears and can help us be mad, too. Things like I can’t believe they would cancel Longmire! A&E is bonkers shows that you get it. You’re on their team. And we all could use somebody on our side.

37. Be grateful.

It’s been said that people who are grateful for what they have are the happiest people. Remember to be grateful for who you married, what they do to help you, and how they improve your life. Remember why you married them and put your love into action. Don’t waste a day; enjoy every day you have together because life is unpredictable.

What tips to a happy marriage would you add?

Add them with a comment below!

10 Effortless Ways to Entertain Kids at Weddings

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Emma Arendoski

CEO/Editor at Emmaline Bride
Blogger, author, wife + mother. I love coffee, DIY, handmade + all things wedding. Check out my books: "The Handcrafted Wedding" (2012) and "The Inspired Wedding" (2014). You can also find me blogging at Emmaline Baby.
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Latest posts by Emma Arendoski (see all)

If you’re inviting kids to your wedding, you’ll probably want to keep them entertained, right? If not, they’ll get bored and unless they have something to do they’ll be taking turns trying to sneak icing from your cake on their fingers and play hide and seek underneath your decorated tables.

Their parents are probably keeping a watchful eye, but doesn’t that sound like what you’d do if you were a kid bored at a wedding? Me too. So, let’s change the dynamic. Let’s make it fun for them. Let’s make kids a part of the party. They don’t want to sit through speeches and wait through dinner. They aren’t that interested in dancing, at least not the slow stuff. And they’re all dressed up and their bowties or dresses are uncomfortable and all they want to do is play. So let them! Here are some ways you can keep kids entertained at weddings so they can be a part of the fun (and their parents can enjoy the party all night long). Enjoy!

This might be the cutest thing I’ve ever at a ceremony. Flower girls being pulled on a wagon by the ring bearer? Now that’s adorable.

flower girls being pulled on wagon by ring bearer

photo: brett heidebrecht via wedding chicks

10 Effortless Ways to Entertain Kids at Weddings

1. Bubble Basket at Ceremony

Provide a basket of bubble jars at your ceremony. It’s fun for all ages (and unlike confetti, it doesn’t leave any cleanup behind). Tiny jars are so inexpensive, too!

bubble box for kids via 10 Effortless Ways to Entertain Kids at Weddings at

kristin moore photography

2. What Shall I Photograph?

Provide each kid with a disposable camera and a list of things to photograph at the wedding. This will keep them busy (and you’ll have a cute arrangement of photos taken from a child’s view).

what shall i photograph kids idea at wedding via 10 Effortless Ways to Entertain Kids at Weddings at

via not on the high street

3. Life-size Lawn Games

HUGE life-size versions of Connect Four or Jenga or Jumbo Checkers are sure to keep them entertained outdoors!

huge connect four game via 10 Effortless Ways to Entertain Kids at Weddings at

style me pretty

tall lawn jenga

photo: larsen’s photography

You can buy them here: Connect Four | Lawn Jenga | Jumbo Checkers

4. Kids Only Area

Make a kids-only area with toys, coloring books, crayons, and blankets.

style me pretty, photos: jillian mitchell

5. Lego Building

Put legos in a bowl at a kids table and let them go to town!

legos at table via 10 Effortless Ways to Entertain Kids at Weddings at

photo: gemma clarke photography

6. Color a Card

Place these packets at each child’s place that includes crayons, candy, and a card. There’s a note that tells them to ‘color a card for the bride and groom’.

color a card for the bride and groom via 10 Effortless Ways to Entertain Kids at Weddings at


7. Bounce Castle

Kids love bounce castles! Adults, too. :)

bride groom bounce castle via 10 Effortless Ways to Entertain Kids at Weddings at


8. Milk + Cookies

Have milk and cookies given to kids in lieu of their champagne toast. Cute idea!

milk and cookies for kids at wedding via 10 Effortless Ways to Entertain Kids at Weddings at


9. Candy Bar

Help-yourself favors at a candy bar is the ultimate treat for kids! Don’t forget gummy bears! They’re my favorite.

gummy bears at candy bar via 10 Effortless Ways to Entertain Kids at Weddings at

studio b photography

10. Project Video Games

Use a projector and a screen on a giant white wall to project video games! Wii, Kinect, Guitar Hero… the options are endless! Kids (and pretty much everyone at the wedding) will want to play! This works especially well if there’s a room off to the side at your reception so as to not distract from the goings-on of the reception itself.

project video games at your reception via 10 Effortless Ways to Entertain Kids at Weddings at

via offbeat bride

Which of these is your favorite? I love the bounce house for summer weddings and I adore the disposable camera / list idea!

Are you having kids at your wedding?


How to Cut Your Wedding Guest List—Without Guilt

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Emma Arendoski

CEO/Editor at Emmaline Bride
Blogger, author, wife + mother. I love coffee, DIY, handmade + all things wedding. Check out my books: "The Handcrafted Wedding" (2012) and "The Inspired Wedding" (2014). You can also find me blogging at Emmaline Baby.
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Latest posts by Emma Arendoski (see all)

Hi! We received this wedding question and thought it was a great share for the weekend, possibly while you’re tackling it yourself: trimming the guest list. Knowing how to cut the guest list without feeling guilty is hard to do, but we’re about to show you some tricks that will help. Relax: we’ll help you finally get to that perfect guest list number. Promise.

how to cut guest list via

How to Cut Wedding Guest List (Without Guilt)

This question comes from bride-to-be, Jennifer, who says,

Q. “My fiancé and I just started planning our wedding and the guest list is getting big quickly. The problem is, our reception hall doesn’t hold more than 200 people, which is less than what we already put on our list. How can we cut the guest list without feeling bad?”

A. Cutting the guest list without feeling bad is definitely a tricky part of wedding planning. When you’re blessed to have so many wonderful friends and family in your life, it’s hard to cut the guest list without feeling guilty. The good news? Once you get through it you’ll be past one of the most stressful parts of wedding planning… so there’s that. :) The best way to tackle your guest list is to make a list. First, start with the people you have to invite: close friends and family and plus ones. Then make a list of the maybes — and as you work through this list, really consider each person. Are you still very close? Would your wedding day be the same without them? Have you been in touch lately, in the past year at least? If you’ve lost touch, it’s OK to cut them from your list. Also, don’t feel pressure to invite everyone from work: if you aren’t friends outside of work, it’s perfectly acceptable to not invite them. Another tip: consider an adult reception. It’s not uncommon for a wedding to be adult-only and it can make a big impact on your final number.

For even more help, try this flow chart. It might just work wonders for your guest list!

how to cut guest list without guilt

via destination wedding mag

Do you have questions regarding your guest list? Did you find it to be an easy task or a difficult one? Are you having a big or small wedding? Comment below!

Hope it helps!


P.S. Have a question? Send it in! You know we’d love to hear from you + help you out. Thank you to Jennifer for sending us this question!

10 Wedding Etiquette Mistakes to Avoid

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Emma Arendoski

CEO/Editor at Emmaline Bride
Blogger, author, wife + mother. I love coffee, DIY, handmade + all things wedding. Check out my books: "The Handcrafted Wedding" (2012) and "The Inspired Wedding" (2014). You can also find me blogging at Emmaline Baby.
Follow Along

Latest posts by Emma Arendoski (see all)

When you’re planning your wedding, no matter what you do or where you get married or how many guests you plan on inviting, there’s bound to be wedding etiquette mistakes or issues that arise or some questionable thing that sneaks its way in. And despite your best efforts, stuff happens.

That’s where we come in!

Since we’re helping you plan the Best Day Ever, we’ve rounded up the most common wedding etiquette mistakes that happen so you can avoid them! Besides, it’s not fair to assume that once you become a Bride-to-Be you automatically know all of the unwritten, unspoken rules.

Now, some of these are pretty obvious, while others may surprise you. And there are a few GIFs along the way because it adds a little fun. One must not take wedding planning too seriously. Mistakes can accidentally happen — such is life! — and if you make one, don’t start freaking out or turning red or thinking it’s the end of the world. Most things can be fixed or made right — Promise! — so if you’re guilty of one of these just shoot us an email and we’ll try to help you make it right.

10 Wedding Etiquette Mistakes to Avoid via

Wedding Etiquette Mistakes to Avoid

10. Don’t mention registry information on your wedding invitation.

People know that it’s tradition to give the couple a wedding gift. So, rest assured: they get it. Don’t mention where you are registered or how you have a preference for cash or that you prefer ‘no boxed gifts’. Sidebar: That’s the tackiest thing I’ve ever heard. No boxed gifts? You’re kidding. Anyway, keep that info far, far away and let guests pick and choose on their own accord.

Oh, and just as a note: it’s perfectly acceptable to include registry information on the bridal shower invitation. But still, don’t ask for ‘cash gifts please’.

9. Don’t over-share on social media.

Facebook makes sharing your big day so easy; too easy, in fact, and now some couples tend to overshare. As proper etiquette, don’t mention any wedding specific details (“we registered here!” + “here’s what the invitation looks like!”, etc.) unless every single person on your friends list is invited. Of course, “we’re engaged!!!!” with eight thousand exclamation marks, the ring, the proposal story, etc. is all definitely welcome and appreciated. People love a good proposal story.


Want to share more of the specifics? Instead of putting it all on blast, consider a closed group where only the people who are invited to the actual wedding are in the private group.

8. Don’t tell guests about a morning-after brunch…

… unless they’re invited to it. Story time!

A friend of mine went to a wedding across the country. She asked the bride where she should stay, you know, what hotels are nearby and such. The bride suggested the one where the reception was held — a rather pricey one, might I add — and coincidentally told her where ‘we’ll all be having brunch will be the next morning’. Apparently “we’ll all” didn’t include my friend, because she never got the invite. Whoops.

7. Don’t send out B- or C-list invites after A-list guests decline.

The funny thing about sending wedding invitations is, you will want to send them all at one time. In one giant stack. All with the same postage and ready to go, addressed and stamped. A wedding invitation is like a spark, setting social media and text messages and phone calls ablaze with quick two minute convos of, “I got invited to so&so‘s wedding, did you? Are you going?” People love to talk about weddings and typically if someone doesn’t get the same invitation within a day or two they assume they didn’t make the cut.

So, suppose you had a guest list and people RSVPed and some couldn’t make it. You may be thinking, hey, open seats! Let’s fill them with people we kinda-sorta weren’t sure about inviting in the first place. So you send late invitations to B or C list people… right?

Don’t do it. They’ll be able to tell and they’ll feel like an afterthought.

6. Don’t assign jobs to your guests at your wedding.

A friend attended a wedding where the bride sent out a photo of the wedding invitation and made a group on Facebook, invited all of her friends list to it, and then didn’t even realize how awkward it would be since not all 250+ Facebook friends were invited to the wedding. Whoops. But wait, there’s more…


And then in this group on Facebook, she asked people to bring dishes to pass at the reception.

And, to add insult to injury, when guests arrived at the reception with dishes to pass, the bride and groom assigned the task of serving the food to a few guests who arrived early.

Don’t do that.

5. Don’t send a save the date to someone unless they’re invited to the wedding.

Seems easy enough, but you’d be surprised at how often this happens. It happens usually because the couple is so excited to send the save the dates out and tell everyone they know and then they realize that, holy crap, that’s going to be expensive. But by that time people are already thinking they’re invited…

Sticky situation indeed. Instead, keep your save the dates limited to very close friends and family.

Ooh, this rule also applies: don’t invite someone to the bridal shower who isn’t invited to the wedding. That’s a big one!

4. Don’t forget to set a place at dinner for your wedding vendors.

Of course, you don’t have to but I think it’s only polite to do so. Your wedding photographer and planner and officiant get hungry, too!

3. Don’t forget to send thank you notes.

It’s a requirement. Have you ever not received a thank you note for a wedding gift? I’ll bet you still remember that.

2. Don’t treat your bridesmaids like dirt.

Bridesmaids are not your hired help!

Luckily, the brides whom I’ve had the honor of being a Bridesmaid or Maid of Honor always treated me nicely.

But a friend of mine stood up in her friend’s wedding and here’s how it went down: the bride asked her to be a bridesmaid; she accepted. Weeks later, the bride started demanding things. Come here, do this, help me with that, call the vendors about this.


That’s so not the way it’s supposed to work.

Bridesmaids are like the bride’s crew. They’re a support system, sure! A helping hand, at times, yes! A friend to talk to and share in your wedding excitement? Of course! To do things for you at a moment’s notice and be here and there and respond to your demands and put the rest of your life on hold? Nope. (Read this and this one, too! It’ll keep things in perspective.)

If you want help with your wedding, hire a wedding planner!

1. Don’t invite someone over text.

Another funny thing with technology: it makes people lazy. Proper wedding etiquette dictates that invitations ought only be sent via postal mail. Even if it’s your second cousin twice removed or your casual friend from work, send an invitation via mail.

♥ | ♥ | ♥


What are the worst wedding etiquette mistakes you’ve encountered?

Share with a comment!