Habits for a Healthy Relationship – by Alyssa McElwain, PhD Univ. WY

Alyssa McElwain, PhD, CFLE, Asst. Professor Dept of Family & Consumer Sciences, UWyo

Are you ready for what happens after the rings and reception? As you look forward to a lifelong commitment, it’s easy to feel a mixture of excitement and nerves.  You have probably heard the odds about divorce and you’ve probably heard that relationships take work. Love isn’t always enough to sustain a marriage.

What do people do in healthy, long-lasting relationships? To answer that, I have to share the knowledge and wisdom of my go-to guru on healthy relationships & marriage. Dr. John Gottman is a therapist and researcher who has studied couple relationships for decades. This man can actually predict divorce. He doesn’t have a crystal ball; he has identified the destructive habits that cause marital demise. Most importantly, he figured out the key habits people engage in on a regular basis to do work in their relationship. These habits are effective–we have decades of research to prove it. The great thing is these habits are things you can do right now, on a daily basis, to help your relationship thrive over the years.

So, what’s the secret? Put simply, couples in happy long-lasting relationships are best friends and treat each other accordingly. That foundation of friendship means that partners know about each other’s current lives. Here’s the key with this one: the person you marry will change. Perhaps in small ways, but maybe in major ways. For instance, if you become parents together, that role will change your worlds in big ways. It’s important to keep yourself updated on your partner’s life of which you share a large part. Dr. Gottman calls this concept “Love Maps.” He stresses the importance of knowing your partner’s inner world by having regular conversations about their life. What is their favorite way to spend their time? What is their biggest fear? What personal improvements are they trying to make? What’s going on with their friendships? Answers to these questions give you a mental picture of your partner’s world. We’ve all probably heard a person regretfully say, “we just grew apart,” or, “I just don’t know who they are anymore, they’re not the person I married.” Keeping up-to-date on your “Love Map” is just one way to prevent that from happening and keep a strong foundation of friendship.

Best friends listen to one another and deal with conflict in a generally respectful way. Part of listening to one another involves including your partner in big decisions. Dr. Gottman found that partners (men especially) who accept influence from their partner have greater satisfaction in their relationships. Accepting influence means including your partner in major decisions, valuing their opinion, and listening to their ideas. Want to buy a new car? Thinking about applying for a new job in another town? Talk about the decision with your partner.

Now, on to that sticky subject of conflict — in any discussion about healthy relationships, it’s bound to get some attention. Did you know that happy couples fight as much as unhappy couples? Yes, you read that right. Research shows that it’s not how much you fight, it’s how you fight that counts. Contempt, criticism, and explosive anger will all eat away at that foundation of friendship. Unfortunately, our biology works against us when we face conflict. When you become angry or emotionally aroused, your brain is actually flooded with chemicals that render you useless in solving problems and seeing your partner’s point of view. It’s easier said than done, but the best thing to do when you’re emotional or angry is to take a break and come back to the conversation when you are both calm and have a clear mind.

Happy, long-lasting couples don’t just deal with conflict when it arises, they do so much more to express appreciation and affection. John Gottman found that stable, happy couples had a ratio of five positive interactions to every one negative interaction. That is, these couples still argue, say snarky things, or snap at one another. But, they also share inside jokes, hug, laugh, listen, and compliment each other more than they fight. It’s like filling up your love bank account with positive experiences so that when you take a withdrawal, you’ll be okay.

Like many things in life, you get out of marriage what you put into it. The hard work that goes into a lasting marriage pays off. Satisfied couples are happier, mentally and physically better off, and (especially men) are likely to live longer. Happy couples also make better parents. Notice that the key word in those statements is happy. Unhappy couples don’t fare so well. It’s not simply being married that is beneficial–it’s being in a satisfied, emotionally connected relationship. So, as you look forward to a lifetime together, keep in mind these habits for a healthy, happy relationship.

Recommended Resources:

Check out the Gottman Institute and their “Card Deck” app

“The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work” by John Gottman

For new parents: “And Baby Makes Three” by John Gottman

About Alyssa McElwain …

Alyssa McElwain, PhD, CFLE is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Family & Consumer Sciences at the University of Wyoming. Dr. McElwain received her M.S. in Marriage & Family Therapy from Purdue University in 2008, and her Ph.D in Human Development & Family Studies from Auburn University in 2015. Her approach to teaching her classes at UW includes active student participation & discussion, including role playing activities and critical case analyses. “Step into one of my classes and you will clearly see that teaching is my passion,” Dr. McElwain writes. “I strive to provide an engaging educational environment where students actively participate in their learning. My belief is that learning can and should be fun. I also believe the best learning occurs when people work hard and practice using the information they are learning.” To learn more about Dr. McElwain’s professional & personal pursuits, visit her website, https://alyssamcelwain.weebly.com/

Wedding Spotlight: Rachel & Dyllon by Ardent Photography

Congrats to Rachel & Dyllon on their beautiful Casper wedding that was held June 10, 2018. Thank you to Ardent Photography’s Rick & Stephanie for sharing this wedding full of special details … I’m in love with that backdrop to their ceremony, the musical tie and the bouquet …

WEDDING: Deanna & Nicholas’s Fabulous Wedding Adventure

Deanna & Nicholas’s Fabulous Wedding Adventure

captured by Macy Carter Photography

Thank you to Deanna & Nicholas and their photographer, Macy Carter of Macy Carter Photography (website at macycarterphotography.com and IG handle @wanderingambition) — for sharing this beautiful day with us! Deanna and Nicholas were married May 4, 2018 at Schwabacher’s Landing in Grand Teton National Park near Jackson. “We were going to get married at Mormon Barn, but Schwabacher’s Landing was a last minute change, and totally worth it,” Deanna says. “The first time I went to Grand Teton National Park was with my family in 2013 and I immediately fell in love with it. I was determined to get Nicholas there and for him to enjoy it as much as I did!”

I’ll let Deanna tell you about the adventure that was their big day …

“In 2016 we graduated college with our bachelor’s degrees and decided to treat ourselves. So as a graduation gift we designed a national park oriented road trip. 

We drove for three months, over 15,000 miles and visited 23 National Parks and hiked over 67 miles. Wyoming was our number one most memorable state. The landscape, wildlife, and untamed magic in the air made us want to go back. So on June 6th, 2017 Nicholas proposed to me in Havana, Cuba and my first vision for the wedding was with the Teton mountains behind us.

Starting on April 19, 2018 we drove from FL to WY in our tiny 2017 Chevy Cruze with my brother in the back seat and everything needed for us to relive our last journey. On May 4th we were joined by my mom, dad, brother, uncle, aunt and cousin. The officiant was a childhood friend of my mother’s and his wife came too. The photographer, Macy, and her now fiance, were there as well.” 

Deanna and Nicholas were married at 5 pm, just before the sun set. Deanna steals my heart as a DIY bride, making all of their boutonnieres, bouquets and invitations. The couple also added a special, unique touch to their unity ceremony. “Our unity ceremony was our vows in a wooden box that contains a bottle of wine which we will drink on our one year and reread our vows and then replace the wine,” Deanna explains. “The box has our name and the date of our wedding engraved in it.” (LOVE! And have I said yet how much I LOVE Deanna’s dress?!)

The couple resides in Seattle now, and we wish them the very best for a life full of love and continued adventure… Thanks to Deanna, Nicholas and Macy for sharing these beautiful images with us!

–Kati Hime


Bryce & Ceira Lander Engagement — Virginia Ruth Photography


Captured by Virginia Ruth Photography

Perhaps it’s because Ceira (the bride) was one of our former dance teachers at our Laramie Dance & Arts Center that we also own … perhaps it’s the historical flare she and Bryce chose when they selected their engagement shoot venue to be the Pioneer Museum in Lander … perhaps it’s the emotion Virginia Ruth captured in this beautiful shoot … or yeah, maybe it’s just all of that. Whatever it is, I LOVE these images … I can’t wait to see their wedding pics!!

Congrats to these two lovebirds, and thanks to Ginny of Virginia Ruth Photography for sharing!


Congrats to Jenelle & Clay!

Congrats to Jenelle and Clay, who were married May 27, 2017 in Douglas at the Wyoming State Fairgrounds! Thanks so much to Lacey Dale Photography in Lusk, who shared this gorgeous wedding with us. She had a lot of fun with Jenelle’s desire for black & white photography (although she threw in some color too for us, which I LOVE!), and she loved the emotion in their day. “Clay was the cutest groom ever!” Lacey exclaimed. “He was like a little kid when he saw her for the first time by the river.” (Say it with me — awwww!) 🙂 “They were so family oriented throughout the whole entire day,” Lacey added. “Their friends and family meant everything to them.” LOVE!

Wedding Rentals – Make Sure You Have All the Needed Items!

Thanks to Carol Thomas of A-One Weddings & Events in Cheyenne for providing us with this handy little checklist!

Wedding Rentals – Make sure you have all the needed items!

Having an outdoor event or using a venue that doesn’t provide every item needed (or the
items that they provide don’t meet your style)? Well let’s talk rentals!

The starting point:
● Check which vendor provides what –
○ venue to see what they include in the price.
○ caterer to review what they include in their price. If you need to provide rentals for them, what do they need and will they unpack and repack the rentals?
● Contact a rental company with your total guest count, the budget you would like to work within (be realistic and honest, as a truly professional company will guide you to the best options), and if you have examples of styles that you like, provide those too!

Some items you may want to consider and discuss with your wedding rental company:
● Outdoor wedding:
○ Do you need a tent? Is it the main venue or will it just be your backup plan if the weather is unpleasant?
■ Will you want fabric draping, chandeliers, or other specialty decor?
■ You may also want to consider heating or A/C depending on the season and weather forecast.
○ Will you need power? Will you need generators to provide electricity for the DJ, band, caterer, and lighting? (These are a few suggestions that will need power, it’s not an exhaustive list!)
○ Restrooms? If you’re outdoors will you have adequate restroom facilities? Estimate around 4 stalls for women and 3 stalls for men per 150 guests.

● All venues:
○ Tables and chairs:  You will also want to check if they are provided and meet your expectations at any venue you choose. Remember to include ceremony seating and any special situations like musicians that need seated while playing. In addition to tables for your guests you may need
tables for buffets, cake, and gifts.
○ Dance floor. If you are outdoors this may be a necessity, and if your
venue doesn’t have one or you dislike the one they have you will want to
make sure you have this in your list of rental items.
○ Linens and napkins. There are an array of fabrics, patterns, and colors to choose from, and linens are a wonderful way to customize your wedding and showcase your style! Renting linens ensures that they arrive clean and pressed and that you won’t have to deal with the hassle of cleaning/storing/selling them after the wedding.
○ Dinnerware, flatware, and barware. The best way to figure out what you need here is to start with the venue, caterer, and bartenders to see what they provide and any recommendations they will provide. Your wedding rental professional will answer any questions and assist you with
recommendations and suggestions.

— There are other rentals that may appeal to you depending on the look and atmosphere you would like to create from lounge furniture to ceremony decor like archways. Check with your local wedding professionals to learn about the options you have available.

● If your caterer is placing an order with the rental company, see if they will add your items to their order so that the wedding rentals are all delivered at the same time. This will keep you from having to pay multiple delivery fees, and if all rental items are from the same company you won’t have to keep the orders separate to make sure that they are returned to the correct rental company.
● Inquire if the company charges damage waiver fees and what these fees cover and, just as importantly, what is not covered.
● Review cancellation policies, deposits, retaining fees, and payment arrangements.

Written by & images provided by:
Carol Thomas, Professional Wedding Planner with A-One Weddings & Events event
rental specialist providing rentals throughout Wyoming, Nebraska, and Colorado

WEDDING SPOTLIGHT: Jessica & Matt August 5, 2017

I am in love with this gorgeous Casper wedding, full of color & bling and captured by Riverton’s Virginia Ruth Photography! Jessica & Matt had a lot of elegant + colorful touches … totally digging the coral + navy combo, the Blessing Tree and the paper lanterns! Their ceremony was held at Casper Plant Company, with their reception at The Gaslight Social, flowers by Keefe’s Flowers and their DJ was Dynamic Sound & Light of Casper. Thanks Virginia Ruth Photography for sharing!





WEDDING SPOTLIGHT: British + American = One Lovely Wedding

Thanks to Mandy Carroll-Bell of MC Picture Company in Sheridan for sharing Mr. & Mrs. Caywood’s beautiful, July 16, 2017 wedding day! The lovely bride is from England, and I love the joining of their homelands in these images. The groom and his mother, Sonja Caywood, are both talented Wyoming artists from Dayton, Wyoming. It’s not surprising that these two had a beautiful wedding full of artistry and love.


INSPIRATION: Antler Wine Glasses!


Photo provided by Antler Workshop & Gallery, Dubois Wyoming












Thanks to Antler Workshop & Gallery in Dubois for allowing us to share their unique wine glasses!  These would make a beautiful wedding or shower gift, or a bridal party gift…they’d also look great at your head table…or just for fun!


Antler stemmed wine glasses can be ordered, or furnish your own glasses with etching if you like and Kurt will add the antler stem.  These glasses have a nice feel.  They are a great gift item, wedding memorabilia and looks great on the head table.  Antler can be white tail or mule deer and vary in eye guard shapes.  Any size or shape glass can be supplied from martini to champagne flutes.  Glasses shown are $55 each.  For more information, call Kurt at 307.455.2204, and visit their website at http://www.antlergallery.com.

Thanks to Lyn & Kurt for this really unique bit of inspiration!  Hunting and wildlife are a very large part of our Wyoming Lifestyle, and incorporating these elements into your celebration can give it a fun Wyoming flair!
‘Til Next Time…I’d love to share your bits of inspiration!
Kati Hime, Editor
VISIT OUR WEBSITE & FIND A WY VENDOR:  www.wyoweddings.com

SHOESDAY TUESDAY: Adorable Clutches!

LINK BACK TO OUR WEBSITE & FIND  A WY VENDOR:  www.wyoweddings.com

We talk about shoes often on Tuesdays, but I have enjoyed finding some other accessories to throw out there too…Abby of Abbydell Photography in Jackson shared the most beautiful little clutch picture with us on our Facebook page , and it got me thinking — CLUTCHES! Of course! So I found just a few to drool over — but if you have another great suggestion, shout it out! We’d love to see what you drool over! Share with us here or on our Facebook page!

Here are some two delicious styles from Nordstrom and one from Lulu Townsend…











Nordstrom, Glint Ruffle Bow frame clutch, www.polyvore.com











Nordstrom, Ruffle Chiffon Frame clutch, www.polyvore.com











Lulu Townsend Rosette Frame Clutch www.polyvore.com


Just a few ideas to throw out there for you…I’d love to see what makes you tick! Share with us on our Facebook page or on our blog or Twitter — under ‘wyoweddings’!


‘Til Next Time…I’m Loving Accessories! What else can we cover?


Kati Hime, Editor




WEDDING WEDNESDAY: Gillette Engagement!

LINK BACK TO OUR SITE & FIND A WY VENDOR:  www.wyoweddings.com

Editor’s Note:  Sorry, the spacing is really goofy here — I’ve been fighting with it and will continue to, but please in the meantime — keep scrolling down! Sorry!















Ernie, Tristan, Sophia and Bert (‘our trusty stead’)

I love today’s story!  Meet Tristan & Ernie from Gillette.  Their story is so sweet and touching, and I’m happy that they are letting us share it (thanks guys!).  What really touched my heart is how their love has been written in the stars — and brought a peace to Tristan’s heart… I’ll be quiet now and let her tell the story:

I met my fiance 14 years ago. He was nothing more than an annoying ranch hand. Being a few years older than him, I had no interest and was so mean! From there he grew into an even more annoying teen with a dirt bike, then grew into a fancy Ford pickup. He never failed to make a point to come say hello, and I never failed to make it clear I was FAR from interested! Years later and plenty of mistakes for both of us, our paths crossed again. I couldn’t believe the kid I’d written off had grown into such a handsome man. That night he asked me to dance and he was so nervous! Then one night standing in the corrals under a perfect summer sky he looked at me and said “I think I’ve loved you my whole life”. Who would have thought he would be the one to swoop in and pick up the pieces to my – at the time, very broken life. He has been the most amazing blessing to both mine and my daughter’s life.

Okay, seriously, I was in tears reading this and got chills. Not lying. I just love stories like this — and I’m very excited for their future together as a family.  Their wedding is coming up June 2 2012, and they have shared some sweet pictures with it — I love these because they capture those intimate moments that are full of emotion…






















From Tristan:  “This is Ernie and my daughter. A stolen moment that captures just how much they mean to each other.”






















Tristan & Ernie at Gulches of Fun in SD…

Thanks guys for sharing your story with us!  It is beautiful and so touching…and we wish you the best of luck as you journey into your new future together!

‘Til Next Time…We’d love to hear YOUR story, engagement or wedding (or even an anniversary!), doesn’t matter! Shoot us a line at brides@wyomingweddingsonline.com and we’ll feature YOU!


Kati Hime, Editor




Sarah’s Top Wedding Tips — THE WEDDING DAY

LINK BACK TO OUR WEBSITE! www.wyomingweddingsonline.com

Sarah Merrill of Suite Blooms is back with another set of wedding tips! Take it from someone who’s been there… Thanks Sarah for these great little nuggets of wisdom!

TIP: Eat something. You are nervous, pressed for time, and have to look PERFECT, so it would make sense to skip breakfast and or lunch – right? Well maybe not. Your mind isn’t clear when you are hungry – so you are more likely to forget something – like your vows. Additionally, being hungry can make you grouchy and more prone to be impatient with your friends and family. Plan ahead and pack something simple, fresh, and healthy that will give you energy but will avoid making you feel too full.

Know you won’t have time to sit down for a meal? Think ahead and freeze some grapes, hard boil a couple eggs, and pack an energy bar. These will be quick and easy to eat while on your way to your hair appointment. Photo from goodtoknow.co.uk.com

TIP: Each time a photo is about to be taken, think about something that you are truly happy about. Your photographer will probably be reminding you “Smile! You are getting married today!” But with the tight schedule, the last minute worries, and the pain your shoes are causing, a smile may not come naturally. Make a mental list of a few things that make you smile every time. Maybe it’s how proud you are of your little sister’s accomplishments in school, or an inside joke that resulted from a crazy night out with friends. Just relax – your joy will show through.

TIP: Hold your bouquet low as you walk down the aisle, and during photographs. Many brides and bridesmaids tend to carry their bouquet too high. When you hold your bouquet with your elbows bent at a 90 degree angle, you hide both the embellishment on your dress and your great figure! Carrying your bouquet as low as you comfortably can will show off your waist, your dress, and will flatter your figure. Here’s a tip: aim to keep it no higher than the level of your belly button.

This bride has her arms relaxed, which makes her whole silhouette flow beautifully. Photo from www.margaretmoriarty.com.

The posture of this bride gives off a nervous and stiff feeling. Photo from http://martin.dirlewanger.net/pictures/wedding/images.html.

TIP: Take time to enjoy the day. You have heard the saying “Stop and smell the roses.” Your wedding day will be a blur and when it is over, you will only have memories and photographs. So take the time to create the memories. Dance with your grandfather. Spend a moment giggling with your flower girl. And take a few private moments with your groom to just enjoy being Mr. & Mrs.

TIP: Don’t overindulge. Whether you are the a glass of champagne type, or a Coors Light girl, take it easy on your wedding day. You’ve spent your life dreaming of this day and you will want to remember it, instead of waking up with a pounding headache and no idea why your dress is ripped or worse.

This photo speaks for itself. Photo from www.blogs.seattleweekly.com.

TIP: Relax. All the planning is over, and when you look back at this day you will remember the special moments, the smell of the flowers, and the most amazing butter cream ever – unless you stress out about a minor detail that isn’t perfect. A few deep breaths will help you calm down, and can help you avoid acting like the bridezilla that you swore you wouldn’t become.

Yes, wedding planning is stressful, but don’t let it get to you like this. Photo from www.heelsaboveweddings.com.

TIP: Last week I threw in a tip from my experience as a bride, and this week I have one more for you. Keep track of your purse and cell phone. My new husband and I were back at my apartment when I realized that my cell phone was no where to be found. And since we would need it to wake us up for our honeymoon flight, we had to find it. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a land line, and he didn’t have a cell phone, so we wound up driving across town to where his groomsmen were staying to use a phone to find out it was at his parents’ house. They’d found it and saved it from getting locked in the reception venue. The whole evening wound up being a bit awkward and was a far cry from what I’d expected. Bottom line: don’t forget your cell phone.

Thanks so much Sarah!  We really appreciate the great bits of knowledge Sarah shares with us weekly. She does a wonderful job working with couples — not only on their floral arrangements, but also in keeping the whole process together and flowing smoothly!  Check her out on Facebook at SuiteBlooms !!

‘Til Next Time…Keep Breathing, and Keep Going — It’s Going to be Beautiful! Aim to make it the happiest day of your life — not necessarily just ‘perfect’ — because no matter what happens, the end result is you’re getting MARRIED! And that is enough to make it an instantly beautiful day. 🙂

Kati Hime, Editor


LINK BACK TO OUR WEBSITE: www.wyomingweddingsonline.com