On The Road With The Lillys- Melinda’s 30th Birthday Celebration

This gallery contains 71 photos.

This year, Melinda turned 30-years-old, and to celebrate Ciara planned a surprise getaway filled with adventure, great memories and unexpected snow. Check out the details and pictures below: Day 1 Surprise Location: Asheville, NC Surprise Adventure: Private Glass Blowing Lessons … Continue reading

Announcing…

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What’s this all about?

We are adding a section to our blog where we share our traveling experiences with you! One of the goals we established for our family this year was to travel more. By adding this section to our blog, it will allow us to invite you on the journey as we achieve that goal!

So where are the Lillys headed next?

It’s a surprise for Melinda’s birthday so you’ll have to wait and see until next week. But what I can say is that we’re going to two different places and it’s not Puerto Rico again. She’s in for a big surprise and we’re taking you with us!

Marriage Lessons From The North Carolina Couple That Holds The Guinness World Record For The Longest Marriage

 

Herbert and Zelmyra Fisher hold The Guinness World Record for the longest marriage. The North Carolina couple were married for 86 years!

Our goal is to beat that record and luckily the Fishers left us with a few gems on how to build a successful, long-lasting marriage! We’ve shared a few below:

 

Question: What made you realize that you could spend the rest of your lives together? Were you scared at all?

Answer: “With each day that passed, our relationship was more solid and secure. Divorce was NEVER an option, or even a thought.”

 

Question: What was the best piece of marriage advice you ever received?

Answer: “Respect, support, and communicate with each other. Be faithful, honest, and true. Love each other with ALL of your heart.”

 

Question: You got married very young – how did you both manage to grow as individuals yet not grow apart as a couple?

Answer: “Everyone who plants a seed and harvests the crop celebrates together. We are individuals, but accomplish more together.”

 

Question: At the end of bad relationship day, what is the most important thing to remind yourselves?

Answer: “Remember marriage is not a contest, never keep a score. God has put the two of you together on the same team to win.”

 

Read more about the Fishers at- http://www.epicdash.com/their-marriage-broke-a-world-recor…/

What We’ve Learned About Love and Marriage

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Ciara on Love 

I think the biggest lesson I have learned about love is that it truly conquers all. It is resilient. And I know that sounds very cliché, but it’s incredibly true. When two people come together and truly commit to loving each other, love takes the form of glue and bonds their hearts together.

I’ve also learned that true love is like a mirror that projects the other person’s soul. It is there that you are shown who that person is- their strengths, their weaknesses, their fears, their insecurities. And for some reason, you feel safe with being exposed. You feel liberated. You feel understood. You feel esteemed.

When I met Melinda, I wasn’t living authentically. I had a nicely decorated box that I was comfortable inside and Melinda was the wrecking ball sent to demolish it. And I was afraid because I had buried my true identity and didn’t know who I was without that box. It was through this experience that I learned that true love can be the catalyst for your rebirth. That you can meet someone who God has equipped with eyes that can see through all the facades and find you- your true self; be it hidden, battered or scared and provide it with a place of refuge.

Love liberates.

I know and love myself because of the love that I share with Melinda. And as we have evolved over the years, I’ve learned that love is a teacher. And if you’re willing to be its student, it will teach you how to love like God. It will teach you how to care for something as precious as the human heart and it will check you.

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Love will check you, boo! It will correct you when you’re letting pride get in the way; and it will mold you over time into the person you’re destined to become.

Love is gentle. And it can soften the hardest of hearts. Love is patient. It never gives up on you even when you try to push it aside. Love is like home. It’s safe. It’s familiar. You can come in, drop your bags and rest.

 

Melinda on Marriage

Ciara and I had been fast asleep for quite a few hours when I heard the loud crash in our master bathroom. I sprang up and hopped completely over Ciara’s still sleeping figure on the other side of the bed. I completely cleared her body and the edge of the bed, sticking a perfect 10 point landing with both feet on the floor. That’s when I woke up. I was ducking to get under the bed when Ciara sat up and asked me what was wrong. I told her that I had heard a loud crash in between breaths and she looked around to see what happened. Our shower caddy had fallen from its suction cup hook.

I was doubled over, trying to catch my breath when she took my arm and guided me to the bed. She only said four words to me all night and until the next morning. “Come here” as she lifted the covers and wrapped me in her arms and then, “It’s okay”, repeatedly until I caught my breath. My heartbeat had slowed from the pace of a HBCU drumline to that of 7-year-old learning to skip rope when I realized what had happened. I was amazed at how quickly and accurately I had moved in my sleep. I realized that I hadn’t woken up until my feet hit the floor and that everything up until that point had been driven by my mind or subconscious or the angels. I also realized that each time my silent chuckles shook my shoulders, Ciara would hold me tighter and drowsily mumble, “It’s okay.”

In the span of a few minutes I felt absolutely terrified, oddly fascinated (at the speed and accuracy of my response) and later, completely safe.

So far, marriage has been a lot like what happened that night. The wedding happens SO quick. Afterward, I was really terrified because I didn’t really know who “Melinda Lilly” was or how to be a wife or if any of that was supposed to be any different than the previous 6 years of our dating relationship. I’ve been completely fascinated with how quickly people seem to respect our relationship now versus before. Most of all, I feel safe. If anything goes down, I know exactly where to go. I don’t even think about it anymore, it’s automatic. I never have any doubt in my mind that Ciara will always protect me, even in her sleep.

And the thing about our marriage is that, there isn’t a part of our lives that isn’t touched by our union. So, sometimes she’s protecting me from bumps in the night or spiders or airplane turbulence (more on that in a later blog) but sometimes she’s protecting me from self-doubt or stress or anxiety or embarrassment. Sometimes I’m protecting her. Either way, it is when we are most vulnerable that we reach out and make each other feel 100% safe.

 

Wusband & Wife: What’s Next For Our Blog

When we started this blog over a year ago, our intent was to focus on our wedding planning journey as a same-sex couple in the south. We did just that. And on July 26, this happened…

 

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We got married!

And since that very special day, we’ve been thinking about what’s next for our blog. We knew that with over 638 likes on our Facebook page and 1,162 visitors to our website that there must be a bigger purpose for our blog. We just needed to figure out what it was.

Now…

We would be lying if we said that we had it all figured out. In fact, we still think that there’s more to come for this blog, but we’re content with taking it one day at a time. So you’ve followed us throughout our wedding planning journey and now we invite you to take the journey with us as a married couple.

Wusband & Wife 2.0 will address topics related to marriage, topics like: communication, compromise and trust. Our goal is to be transparent, entertaining and inspiring. Let’s face it, not everyone believes that same-sex couples are able to create healthy, long-term marriages and we want to counter that belief by showcasing our journey as a same-sex married couple. We will share our lessons, our laughs, our ups and downs, in hopes of creating a safe place for other engaged and/or married couples to nurture and strengthen their relationships.

Are you ready?

We are! Today marks our seven year dating anniversary and also represents five months of marriage for us. To kick off this next phase of our blog, we decided to write about what we’ve learned about marriage and love. Stay tuned, it’s going to be good…

Update From The Lillys

 

We did! On July 26, 2015, in front of our closest family and friends, we got married! And the day could not have been more perfect! As you can imagine, the weeks before and after our wedding were insanely busy. So we apologize for not updating our blog as frequently as before. Nevertheless, you can visit our Facebook page for more photos and updates from us. We’ve also put together our vendor list for anyone who’s interesting in checking them out. We’re happy to send it to you- just drop us a comment or email with your email address. We would highly recommend each and every one of them! They made our special day unforgettable.

What’s Next For Us?

We have considered spinning this off into a marriage blog where we talk about our experiences as newlyweds. Or perhaps we’ll pitch that idea as a column for another publication? What do you all think? Would you continue reading about our journey as a newly-married same-sex couple? Drop us a comment or email us to share your thoughts! One thing is for sure, no matter what direction we take, we are SO grateful for all of the support we’ve received along the way.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

-Ciara & Melinda Lilly

Vendor Spotlight: Your Custom Catering & Events

Contact Person: Nate Turner

Email: info@yourcustomcatering.com

Services Provided: Catering and Event Management

Website: www.yourcustomcatering.com

 

How we met Nate and Chad

Okay, we’ll admit that food was ranked pretty high on our “Must not be an epic fail” list. So what did that mean? We stalked caterers for months. Yes, stalked. We checked Facebook pages, website photo galleries, Facebook page reviews, everything! Melinda’s stance was, “They need to prepare food that I cannot make at home.” My stance was, “If I’m going to pay for everyone to eat, it has to be food so good that it makes me want to slap Jazzy (just kidding PETA).”

We were like this… minus the pipe 

 

In one of Melinda’s searches, she came across Your Custom Catering and Events and sent me the link to their website. Their website was user-friendly, informative and professionally-designed (this matters). Next, we went to their Facebook page. We needed to see photos. However, the cardinal mistake we made was, we didn’t eat before perusing their photo galleries. The most appropriate and cute way to explain what resulted from that mistake is this…

 

 

After wiping the drool from our mouths, we submitted an online inquiry to schedule our initial consultation.

 

The Initial Consultation

For this consultation, we brought out the clipboard and a list of questions that could have been converted to a novel. But Chad answered each question with detail and ease. He and Nate were professionals. They knew their business and weren’t caught off guard by any of our questions.

 

We liked that.

We discussed every element of our vision- the food, the aesthetics, the venue, plating, etc. Outside of just catering-related information, Chad gave us suggestions and tips that we (well maybe just me) didn’t think about. Like, I knew we would need tables, and Melinda convinced me that table linens were a must-have, but who would have thought about how the table linens would lay on the tables? Glass or plastic wine glasses, yeah I totally didn’t think about that. But Your Custom Catering did and explained the pros and cons of each option.

 

The Food.

In all of our conversations with other caterers, the food options were limited but costly. We were getting a little nervous, because the trend was that one chicken entree, two vegetables, a garden salad and a cup of lemonade equaled $45,524 (okay, maybe not THAT much, but close enough). But things were different with Your Custom Catering. We were able to select menu items that were unique, elegant and fairly priced. And did we mention that they have a Krispy Kreme bread pudding made with… Krispy Kreme doughnuts?

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In case you couldn’t tell Ciara loves donuts, folks. 

The Food Tasting.

So the moment we all have been waiting for has finally arrived. It’s time to taste the food! And I, Ciara, have to be honest; I was a little nervous. Melinda could make an old man’s boot taste like a signature dish from a five-star restaurant. This is why I lost my two-pack after the first year of our relationship, but I digress. My ultimate fear was that we would be paying a premium for food that Melinda could make at home. But that fear dissolved as soon as I tasted our first hors-d’oeuvre. This food was like slap yourself kind of good. Don’t believe me? Check out the expressions on their faces…

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And this is just the first hors-d’oeuvre! There were two more to follow!

Every single dish on our menu was fantastic. The challenge, however, was upholding the correct etiquette when you really wanted to lick the plates. Here’s an example of how good this food was- there was one dish that came over a bed of lettuce. Andreana, Melinda’s sister and Maid-of-Honor, and I were on to the next dish only to find Melinda raving about the lettuce and how well it paired with the sauce. The lettuce, folks. Melinda, the culinary master, was impressed with every part of that dish- even the lettuce! Who can make lettuce taste magical? Your Custom Catering, that’s who.

Drum Roll… 

This may not be an effective drum roll, but the baby is cute.

The Krispy Kreme bread pudding. Ya’ll. No words will do it justice. I’ve basically concluded that I had an out-of-body experience while eating it. It was incredible! It tasted just like a hot, glazed Krispy Kreme doughnut! So, so, so good!

 

In Conclusion.

After we completed the food tasting, we started discussing our linen and centerpiece selections. Oh, you thought Your Custom Catering was just a catering company? These guys do it all! They are truly a one-stop shop for most of your wedding needs. We decided to use many of their services because we were impressed with their attention to detail and their dedication to quality work. We appreciated how attentive they were during the food tasting and found them to be incredibly helpful when it came to visualizing our decor. It didn’t take long to realize that we were dealing with professionals that we could trust.

As we were driving home from the food tasting, Melinda and I both took a sigh of relief. We knew, without a doubt, that we had made the right decision with Your Custom Catering. We were in good hands.

Hope this Helps! – Invitations Pt. 4

Design Styles

If you’re engaged to a person who has totally different design preferences than you and you’d like to test the strength of your love for one another…just wait until you have to pick out invitations! It is a great test of compromise and budgeting skills! As I mentioned before in part 1, a lot of invitation companies sell each piece individually. That means you not only have to negotiate with your partner on the design of the invitation but on which and how many pieces are really needed for your wedding. Now, given an unlimited budget, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to find something you BOTH like. But here’s OUR problem.

 

Ciara’s style is like this:

Vintage Fanfare

Regal, Sophisticated and Vintage

 

By Vintage, do you mean old? 

 

While my style is more like this:

Modern, Quirky, Fresh

Modern, Quirky, Fresh

 

 

I get vintage, but you get fresh? My design preferences are vintagely-fresh. 

EXACT. OPPOSITES.

 

So how did we do it? After literally 3 months, we got so frustrated that Ciara gave up and let me pick whatever I wanted. (And this, my friends, is a lesson in and of itself. Don’t go back-and-forth on something as simple as an invitation. Just do what will make your spouse happy.)  🙂 BUT being the good future wife that I am *brushes shoulders off*, I refrained from choosing my favorite design and picked one that we both liked.

 

I should mention that it isn’t that we couldn’t find ANYTHING we both liked. It’s just that some of the really good designs just didn’t fit in our budget or took too long to print up.  I mean, imagine paying $4.00 for the invitation ONLY (not including RSVP cards, etc). If you need to send them out to 100 people, you’re already looking at nearly $500 on invitations! It isn’t impossible, but I just really couldn’t see US spending that much on invitations. (Nope! There was NO way that we were going to pay $500+ for invitations. I could draw our wedding invitations for $8.92.)

 

Some things that might make your invitation search easier are:

  1. Having a theme – I know it sounds cheesy but if you have a set theme like “Paris” or “Travel”, it is easier to search websites for those keywords and only browse a few options rather than a couple thousand!
  2. Knowing your colors ahead of time – you can also search many websites by color or special features like glitter and foil.
  3. Ordering catalogues and samples early on – many companies send out a catalogue or samples at no cost so you can see what colors look like. Minted.com sent us a GREAT kit that had all their paper types,  printing types, colors and popular designs in it FOR FREE. It was high quality stuff. David’s Bridal sent us free samples in the colors we were debating on so that we could be sure about the printing before we ordered. (There are approximately 2,947,493.4 shades of purple, y’all)
  4. Know your personal style as a couple. We couldn’t find many designs we liked on certain sites because they just catered to a different style. Some were very muted tones and others were very lacey and traditional.
  5. Talk about the value of the invitation. For some couples, the invitation is the first glimpse you get of the wedding style itself. And if you have a theme it will be important to carry that into your invites. But for others, it isn’t that big of a deal. Either way is OK. Having a conversation about this early on will help you set a realistic budget and stick to it.

So, basically, if you are EVER planning on needing wedding invitations, do yourself a favor and start a Pinterest board NOW. Like RIGHT now. Stop what you are doing, ask your boss for a 15- minute break and make that Pinterest board! And then add me, we’ll pin together. 🙂

 

Hope this helps!

XOXO,

~Mel

Vendor Spotlight: Carolina Cake Artistry

Contact Person: Dayna and Tim

Email: dayna@carolinacakeartistry.com

Services Provided: Baking goods, specifically cakes and cupcakes

Website: http://www.carolinacakeartistry.com/

 

How we met Dayna and Tim

We were first introduced to Carolina Cake Artistry at the Carolina Bridal Fair in Concord, NC. There were many bakeries represented at this fair, but few left a lasting impression. Carolina Cake Artistry was different. As we approached their booth, Dayna greeted us with a smile and took a genuine interest in learning more about our wedding cake vision.

And the best part was…

Everything we sampled was SO good! You just couldn’t try one thing, you had to try it all. Well, at least that’s what Ciara did. She tried every single sample and raved for weeks about how good it was. When she wasn’t raving about the cake bites, she was trying to convince me that we could have a pumpkin cake for a July wedding (Ciara here- Let it be known that a Thanksgiving-themed wedding in July would have been unique and… well… memorable)

Fast forward a few months…

And our close friend, Mara, mentions a local bakery that she’s worked with before. Guess who it was? Yep, Carolina Cake Artistry! Mara connects us with Dayna and immediately we remember meeting them at the Carolina Bridal Fair. After exchanging a few emails, we scheduled our cake tasting.

 

The Cake Tasting

We wrote about our cake tasting experience a few posts ago, as a refresher, check it out here.

Vendor Spotlight: Your Wellness Coach

Contact Person: Maureen Carlomagno

Email: maureen@your-wellness-coach.com

Services Provided: Health and Wellness Coaching

Website: http://www.your-wellness-coach.com

 

How we met Maureen

After reading about us in Creative Loafing, Maureen sent us an email to introduce herself and her company. She explained that she had recently developed a coaching package especially for couples who were planning their wedding and that she would love to work with us and extend her new service to us for free!

Yes, our favorite word, FREE!

I don’t think five minutes passed before we were responding to her email for more details. Throughout the day, we exchanged a few more emails and scheduled our first meeting.

 

Our First Meeting

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Melinda’s smile says it all. Our first meeting with Maureen was great! There are so many things we could appreciate about Maureen. But here are a few that really resonated with us: she was kind, very knowledgeable, attentive and genuine. She listened and we could tell that she sincerely cared to learn more about us. And as you would expect from any coach, she was organized, direct and very thorough.

How thorough?

So thorough that Melinda didn’t have any questions after we wrapped up our meeting!

And that never happens.

 

The Coaching Package- The Intuitive Bride

Some couples seek pre-marital counseling to prepare them for marriage while others just jump the broom with their fingers crossed. Melinda and I are taking a different approach. For 8-weeks, we will work one-on-one with Maureen to address different topics like: Health History, Personality and Life Values Assessments, Goal Setting and Health Action Plan, Health Risks and Personal Biometric Information, Nutrition and Healthy Eating, Exercise, Objective Self-Review, Time Management, Stress Management, Social Support, Staying Motivated, and Positive Mindset.

This coaching package will equip us with tools and resources that we can use throughout our marriage. It will give Melinda and I an opportunity to grow in our knowledge of each other, because it’s true, you can be with someone for many years and still learn something new about them every day.

During one of our most recent coaching sessions with Maureen, we learned about our personality types. And although our personality types were quite similar, there were a few differences that we were able to identify. We both walked away with a better understanding of how we can communicate more effectively with each other. Now we have new knowledge that we will be able to apply in our everyday interaction.

But What If You’re Not Getting Married Right Now?

You can still use Maureen’s services! She offers both individual and group coaching packages that you can read more about here. She also conducts various health and wellness seminars in and around Charlotte. In fact, if you’re in the Charlotte area this weekend, Maureen will be hosting a free “How To” Online Shopping Class at Harris Teeter. We’ve included the details below:

Seminar: Harris Teeter “How To” Online Shopping Class: Learn how to shop faster, smarter and healthier

Date: Saturday, February 28, 2015

Time: 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

Location: Davidson Harris Teeter, 431 Peninsula Drive, Davidson, NC 28036

Topics Covered In The Class: Learn how to shop from the comfort of your home or office, shop online in under 30 minutes, then pick up your order in 10 minutes or less, learn tips to stick to your grocery budget, save valuable time in your busy schedule, unlimited shopping available, convenient pick-up times, new tips and tricks on the Harris Teeter app and website and how to make eating healthier easier.

Register Here: http://goo.gl/forms/rhihP2lxSi