TIME relationships

These Are the Top 5 Reasons People Reject Marriage Proposals

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Key takeaway: if you want them to say yes, choose a romantic setting

If you’re thinking of proposing to someone soon, then you’re presumably hoping they will say yes. Or, better, yet, “Yes! Yes! A thousand times yes!” or some other dramatic thing. If that’s the case, a recent study conducted by VoucherCloud about why people choose to reject proposals might be of use to you.

The company surveyed 2,144 American residents, both male and female, who were 21 years or older and had previously rejected a proposal, Bustle reports. The participants didn’t have to choose one specific reason — instead, they were asked for all the factors that contributed to their rejection. These were the five most reasons:

  1. Unromantic proposal setting: 67 percent
  2. Poor ring choice: 53 percent
  3. Bad wording of the proposal: 51 percent
  4. Lack of trust in the relationship: 39 percent
  5. Scared of the commitment: 36 percent

These results may seem a bit surprising. The reasons seem fairly: poor ring choice? Lame location? “As much as it seems silly to turn down the big question because the cost isn’t high enough, it’s important to remember that getting engaged is a huge moment in your life,”VoucherCloud’s Matthew Wood told Bustle. “It’s an investment and should be treated as such.” Of course, he added that there “are ways to make a person feel special during a proposal without going bankrupt.”

So, take all of this with a grain of salt, of course, but it couldn’t hurt to pick an extra romantic proposal location. Just in case.

(h/t Bustle)

Read next: This Ridiculously Romantic Ad Aims to End Divorce

TIME viral

Groom Sweeps Bride Off Her Feet Only to Drop Her Seconds Later

Don't worry: they were both okay and successfully married each other

Well, this is definitely one way to make an entrance. At a recent wedding in Arizona, the groom, apparently overcome with lots of romantic feels, decided to scoop up his bride as they made their way into the reception. He begins running as the bride proudly raises her bouquet into the air, the guests whooping in delight. Everything seems great until … boom. He takes a tumble — a serious tumble — and they both crash into the pavement.

But don’t worry. The bride, Julia Magdaleno, told ABC News that the fall looks a lot worse than it really was. They suffered some minor cuts and bruises and were a bit sore the next day, but otherwise, everything was okay. In fact, the bride thought the whole thing was hilarious. Though perhaps not as hilarious as this other memorable wedding mishap:

 

TIME China

11 Arrested in China for Digging Up and Selling Women’s Corpses as Brides

The bodies are sold to families of dead bachelors for as much as $3,000, as part of an age-old custom called a ghost marriage

The words “till death do us part” don’t really apply in this case. Quite the opposite, actually.

Chinese authorities have arrested 11 people in the eastern province of Shandong for digging up bodies of dead women to be sold as “ghost brides,” the South China Morning Post reports. The custom of ghost marriage, still practiced in many parts of rural China, involves burying a woman next to an unmarried man who has recently died so he may have a companion in the afterlife.

The arrested men in this case reportedly excavated a Shandong woman’s body from her grave in March, selling it to a middleman for the equivalent of nearly $3,000. The main suspect, surnamed Wang, said in an interview that the value of the bodies went up if they were exhumed and sold closer to death, using the example of a woman disinterred three months after her passing.

“Years-old carcasses are not worth a damn, while the ones that have just died, like this one, are valuable,” Wang said.

Stealing corpses is a criminal offense in China, which can result in up to three years in prison if convicted.

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TIME Books

Love, Marriage and Us: A New Novel Mulls the Gone Girl Question

Us, by David Nicholls
Us, by David Nicholls

Megan Gibson is a writer and reporter for TIME, currently based in London.

In his new book, Booker Prize winner David Nicholls examines how a husband and wife found themselves in a disintegrating union

David Nicholls knew One Day would be a tough act to follow. The 2009 tragic love story was not only an international best seller, it also spawned a Hollywood adaptation. It was so successful that Nicholls worried in a 2012 interview with The Independent that his follow-up might “disappoint” people.

Us is that follow-up and it hits U.S. shelves today. The novel, which centers on a marriage in trouble, has already received accolades and was even long-listed for the 2014 Man Booker Prize, so Nicholls apparently didn’t have much to worry about. Yet Us is also another love story, of sorts—as the narrator and hero Douglas Petersen says, “Certainly love comes into it”—and it’s hard to pick the book up without reflecting, even briefly, on its predecessor.

Yet once I got into Us, I wasn’t reminded of One Day, but instead of a different best-seller, one that also zeroes in on marriage: Gone Girl. Or, at least, a happier, lighter, more well-adjusted version of Gone Girl. No, David Nicholls hasn’t waded into murder mystery territory. Remember that while Gillian Flynn’s 2012 psychological thriller – and its David Fincher-directed big-screen adaptation – deals with crime and deception as much as it does with relationships, it also takes an in-depth look at the state of marriage and what years together can do to a couple. On the very first page, when Nick Dunne contemplates what his wife, Amy, is thinking, he asks himself, “What have we done to each other?”

In a much more benign way, that is also the central question at the heart of Us. While Douglas Petersen is a middle-aged biochemist with sensible tastes, his long-time wife Connie is a spontaneous and vivacious artist-type—Douglas’s complete opposite. The two also have a moody teenage son, Albie, who adores Connie, annoys Douglas and is about to head off for college. The book opens with Connie’s announcement one night that, after years together, she’s thinking of leaving Douglas. He’s railroaded by the news, but agrees to go along with her and Albie on a “Grand Tour” of Europe—Douglas’s final chance to win back his wife’s love and save his marriage.

If that sounds like a huge feat, Douglas is here to make the reader understand that he’s done it before. Between chapters describing the “Grand Tour,” Douglas goes back in time, to “Before Connie,” to recount how the couple first met, at a dinner party his sister throws. He is not only instantly smitten, he also immediately realizes that in order to attract anyone as edgy and arty as Connie, he might need to rethink his ordered, sensible life.

“[My] transformation began even before our second date,” he explains. “I had for some time been living the wrong sort of life and my drab flat in Balham was a reflection of this. The bare magnolia walls, the flat-pack furniture, the dusty paper lightshades and 100-watt bulbs. A woman as cool as Connie Moore would not stand for this. It would all have to go.”

But it’s not just his flat that Douglas feels the need to tweak to impress his future-wife. He describes delving into art, theater, novels and music – all things he’d previously been uninterested in – in order to entice and connect with Connie. In short, he tries to become a different person. It’s seemingly an extensive overhaul and somewhat reminiscent of Amy Elliot Dunne’s famous “Cool Girl” rant, in which she rages about the myriad ways women transform themselves into exactly who they think men want them to be, twisting themselves in knots in the process.

“Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes and anal sex, and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she’s hosting the world’s biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size 2,” Amy fumes when recalling her courtship with Nick. “Men actually think this girl exists.”

Of course, while Amy’s description of the hoops she – and all women, or so she believes – must jump through in order to land a guy is nothing short of bitter, Douglas’s account of the lengths he goes to impress Connie is heartfelt. Unlike Amy, he doesn’t express disgust that such a performance is believed; he’s relieved. Even years later, when their marriage starts to wear thin, Douglas doesn’t seem to be bothered by the efforts he made for love. “I was grateful,” he reflects. “My wife educated me.”

Eventually, however, Douglas, like Amy before him, realizes that an act is unsustainable and, over the years, his real buttoned-up self shines through. The tedium of work and commuting and parenting and everyday life sets in. That may be where the relationship becomes more honest, but it’s also more susceptible to disenchantment and deterioration.

Though in both tone and genre Us and Gone Girl are seriously light years apart, each novel makes a serious attempt to excavate a marriage from the initial flirty courtship to the downward spiral and back again. Just as Flynn’s psychological mine-field has moments of levity and sweetness, Us takes us into the darker corners of the Petersens’ life together.

Luckily for the marriage in Us, Nicholls’ characters are nowhere near as vicious as those in Gone Girl (though Connie’s choice to break her husband’s heart before insisting he tour Europe with her seems pointlessly cruel). That doesn’t necessarily mean that Douglas and Connie’s marriage contract ultimately fares better than Nick and Amy’s, though I won’t spoil either book here. But for all of their burdens and battles, Douglas and Connie have moments of real joy in their marriage and while it doesn’t always seem like a pleasure, reading about it sure is.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

MONEY First-Time Dad

How to Cook a Real Dinner for Your Family…and Finish Before 9 p.m.

Luke Tepper

First-time dad Taylor Tepper asks parents and cooking experts for advice on feeding a family while maintaining your sanity. What he learns: Focus on formats.

Last week, I stood in the first aisle of my local grocery store for a few minutes blinking at a bin of scallions.

I had a cart in one hand, a shopping list in the other, and a podcast playing in my ear. I needed to grab a bunch of groceries, get home and make dinner.

But at some point in the produce section, I fell victim to a momentary lapse of cognitive function, as if I was a computer that had overheated. For a moment, I wished I had simply ordered in Chinese.

A parent’s day is long. Ours starts at 5:30 a.m. with a groggy baby and two sleep-deprived parents, and I don’t return home with dinner’s ingredients in tow until 7 p.m.

To be clear, I genuinely relish the responsibility of providing my family with sustenance. Plus I know there are real benefits to eating real food prepared at home: We can eat more healthfully and save a few bucks in the process.

But my problem is that I’m terrible at planning. I’ll look up a recipe before I head home from work, buy everything on the ingredient list (often forgetting that I have a quarter of the stuff at home), walk home and make the meal. On that day last week when I paused in front of the scallions, for instance, I ended up preparing a baked chicken dish with Kalamata olives, dates, tomatoes with an herb jus and mashed potatoes.

Delicious. Only, my wife and I finished eating close to 9 p.m.—at which point I devolved into a coma.

I know I’m wasting time and money. I need help. I need a plan.

So I turned to a few experts: KJ Dell’Antonia, who as the lead writer at the New York Times Motherlode blog has written on her successes and failures of cooking for a family, my friend Cara Eisenpress whose cookbook and blog BigGirlsSmallKitchen.com document dinner prep in a diminutive Brooklyn apartment, and Phyllis Grant, a former pastry chef whose blog DashandBella.com chronicles meals made with her kids.

The Game Plan

“Obviously I’m a big fan of planning,” says Dell’Antonia. “There’s nothing like realizing that it’s 4 pm and you’ll have to make dinner again tonight—but not only do you know what it is already, but you’ve got all the ingredients and maybe some prep work done. Saves my life every time.”

But what type of plan is best for a busy working parent like me?

Cara told me to forget about specific recipes and think more broadly.

“When planning, think in terms of formats,” she says. “Pasta, hearty soups, stir fries, roasted cut-up chicken, and eggs are all classes of weeknight dinner that are so simple to vary.”

In other words, rather than shopping for a pasta dish on Monday (like Lemon Fettuccine with Bacon and Chives) and then returning to the store on Tuesday in search of ingredients for for another (say Orecchiette Carbonara with Scallions and Sun-dried Tomatoes), plan on whipping up two pasta dishes and a chicken entrée over the next few days and then map out recipes from there. That way you’ll buy overlapping ingredients.

At the same time, though, be mindful of planning too far ahead, says Cara.

“Don’t shop for the seven nights’ worth of formats—you’ll waste food and money if something comes up,” she advised. “Better to plan out fewer and then grab a few miscellaneous staples that could turn into dinner as needed, like extra onions (caramelized onion grilled cheese), a box of spinach (lentil soup with spinach), or some bacon (breakfast for dinner).”

Grant even suggests preparing more than one night’s worth of a neutral protein like chicken, which she notes “can be a life saver, You won’t get sick of it because you can dress it up with some many different flavors and techniques.”

Most importantly, Cara said, make sure you have a stocked pantry—including olive oil, vinegar, mustard, salt, rice, pasta and cheddar, among others—to augment whatever recipes you’ve chosen.

The Defense Formation

After you’ve figured out the formats and recipes you’re interested in for the next couple of days, it’s time to actually buy the food.

But the grocery store is like a casino: The thing is designed to have you spend more time shuffling along the aisles so that you look at more food. They even mess with the music (see #19 here).

If you’re not careful, you’ll arrive home with a beautiful jar of jam that will sit in your fridge for the next six months. (Guilty!)

That’s why Dell’Antonia recommends shopping with a list, “and not buying anything that’s not on it,” says. “Ridiculously, I save money by sending my babysitter to the grocery store when I can. Her time costs me less than I’d spend in ‘Oh, look! Halloween Oreos!'”

Also, look for items that will make your cooking life easier, says Cara. “Don’t shy away from shortcut ingredients. Find brands of tomato sauce, salsa, stock, pre-washed spinach, ravioli, etc. that you like: each of those gets you a third of the way to dinner. There are some vegetables I think of as shortcuts too because they require so little prep: a potato you can rinse and then bake, and my go-to, fennel, where you just remove the outer skin, quarter what’s left, and roast to get a super simple serving of vegetables.”

Kickoff!

Time to practice my new strategy.

I replenished up my pantry—I was a little low on olive oil and pepper—and decided to prepare Chicken with Figs and Grapes from Grant’s blog. I even bought a little extra chicken and stock for some soup later in the week (guess I was in a chicken format mood.)

Her recipe calls for about a dozen different ingredients, but since my pantry is already full, I only need to pick up the chicken, anchovies, figs and grapes.

I’m in and out of my local grocery store in five minutes (without jam!) and before long my kitchen is humming right along.

The dish is relatively easy to prepare and after a little less than 30 minutes in the oven, my wife and I have a meal for tonight and tomorrow. I arrived home by 7:15pm and we finished eating around an hour later, about 45 minutes quicker than normal and nearly a Tepper weekday record.

Our stomachs were full, the kitchen relatively clean and my brain didn’t wither like a raisin during the process.

A sense of peace had been restored in my life.

Adulthood can be difficult—after a long day of work, it often just feels easier to order a delicious Korean BBQ kimchi burrito than expending the time and effort to put together a meal. So sometimes the Teppers do just that.

But as Cara says, “Cooking at home is one of the best parts of being a grown-up. You get to eat exactly what you want when you want it. So, if you like to eat, you like not spending all your money, and you like putting relatively healthful food in your body, you should probably learn to cook.”

And if you’re going to do it, plan ahead.

Taylor Tepper is a reporter at Money. His column on being a new dad, a millennial, and (pretty) broke appears weekly. More First-Time Dad:

TIME health

Six Months After Our Wedding, My Husband Was Diagnosed With Cancer

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I'd promised 'in sickness and in health'—but I didn't expect the sickness part to come quite so soon

xojane

This story originally appeared on xoJane.com.

The wedding was beautiful. It was winter in Oregon, but we’d miraculously discovered a reception site where you could see green out the windows (apparently in Oregon there are two options for wedding receptions: outside or windowless dungeon).

We’d had an unexpected snowstorm the weekend before, but the weather had finally turned — the sun even came out for the photos. My family, his family, our friends. So much laughter. And him. Perfect.

Six months later, I was crying in a parking lot in Pasadena, sweating in the 100 degree weather and blubbering into my cell phone, while my dad tried to make sense of my choked-up sentences. They’d found a tumor, six inches across, pressing on my husband’s lung. They didn’t know what it was. They didn’t want to tell us anything until we came in person.

It wasn’t anything concerning at first. A nagging cough that wouldn’t go away. He eventually went to the doctor, who gave him a prescription. Sometimes these things happen after a bad cold, it should clear up in a week or so.

It didn’t, so he went back. New prescription. Same problem. This went on for a while, along with a handful of cough drops each day. It grew familiar, nothing to worry about, a refrain that accompanied waking and sleeping.

There were other things too. We’d go on hikes together — small ones, no big elevation climbs — that would leave him panting and breathless. We’d joke about his being out of shape. It’s amazing how easy it is to miss things. So many dots on a page that you never think about connecting. Who’s to know which details end up being the important ones?

It was an accident, the way we found out. He’d gone in to see another doctor about recent troubles with acid reflux. They took a chest X-ray. After taking it, the technician came in to the room.

“Tell me,” he said. “How’s your general health been?”

“Fine,” my husband said. “I’ve had a cough, but otherwise fine.”

“How long have you had the cough?”

“I don’t remember — a couple months, at least. Why?”

The technician shrugged, looked away. “Just curious. We’ll be in touch.”

And then the phone call from my husband, one day after class in Pasadena. They’d found a tumor. They wanted us to come in as soon as possible.

We went, the two of us, holding hands, silent in the waiting room. The doctor was a cardiothoracic surgeon. You could tell behind the somberness he might have been a little pleased to have caught this. It was probably not something he found regularly.

“No way you have acid reflux,” he said. “What you have is a tumor, pressing on your lung.”

“What is it?”

“Could be one of three things.”

Medical terms. The doctor outlined them briefly, but they remained floating above our heads, without meaning. We tried to ask questions.

“Look, what you really need to do is see an oncologist for more testing. I have a colleague I can recommend, great guy. In the meantime, I’d recommend you go home, and don’t do a lot of research. It will make you crazy. Just wait and see.”

Just wait and see.

We went home and ate dinner at the kitchen table. I tried my hardest not to think about it, to think about anything else. But the thoughts kept creeping in anyway. We’d only been married six months. How much longer? What if—? Too many what ifs.

Later that evening, while he was getting ready for bed, I snuck into the living room and opened the laptop. Only five minutes, I promised myself. I had written down the three possibilities on a notepad, and I looked them up now. Three possibilities, ranging from not-so-bad to oh-God-please-no. I still didn’t know anything for sure, but I’d read enough to know that this could be bad. My husband called from the bedroom, and I slammed the lid of the computer, guiltily.

Two weeks of waiting, accompanied by a series of blood tests and two biopsies on the tumor. I tagged along for all of them, working early or staying late to make up for lost time. The first biopsy was especially challenging. He would have to stay awake, while they pierced his chest with a large, hollow needle and pulled out a sample.

My husband lay in a mobile hospital bed in the operating room, while the surgeon explained the procedure to both of us. Somewhere after the “large, hollow needle” part, my face flushed, I broke out in a sweat, and I realized, with a sharp and unmistakable clarity, that if I didn’t leave that room immediately, I was either going to faint or throw up all over the operating room.

“Ok, well, hope it goes well, bye!” I gasped, interrupting the doctor mid-sentence. He turned to stare at me as I hot-tailed it out of there. I made it out the door before my knees gave out, and I sunk to the floor against the hallway wall, head spinning. Several minutes later the surgeon followed me out, squatting down next to me.

“How are you doing?” he asked.

“Fine. Sorry,” I said, embarrassed.

“No worries,” he said. “Let me help you up. Can you make it to that waiting room down the hallway?”

I nodded, and he escorted me down the hall, explaining as we went the medical rationale behind why I had almost fainted. I spent the next hour watching daytime TV and flipping through year-old magazines — anything to keep from thinking about hollow needles.

Several days later the hospital called. The sample they had pulled hadn’t been quite big enough for a sure diagnosis, and he’d need to come in for another round. We both agreed that I’d stay in the waiting room.

After the second biopsy, they called again, this time to let us know they had the results. They asked when we could come in for a consultation. No, they couldn’t tell us anything over the phone. More waiting. More pretending to live life normally, and trying not to imagine what might come next.

We sat again in a chilly hospital room, neither of us speaking. My palms were sweating, my breathing rapid. A large lump in my throat threatened to lead to tears, but I was determined. No crying. Not yet, anyway.

I stared at the scuffs on my shoes, bounced a knee up and down, trying to keep warm. Finally the door opened, and a middle-aged man in a white coat entered. He had a slight paunch and dark circles under his eyes. He shook our hands, and I wondered if in the future I would remember his face with sadness or relief. He spoke quickly in a clipped voice, serious, sympathetic, straight to the point.

“Hodgkin’s lymphoma,” he said.

We stared at him. I couldn’t remember which one of the three things that was. Was it even one of the three things?

“So is that—” my husband trailed off.

“It is cancer,” he said. “But you’ll be fine. This is very treatable. You’re lucky.”

It was a refrain we heard often at the hospital, while in line for blood work, or sitting for eight hour days while drugs dripped slowly from IV bags into my husband’s veins. If we got there early enough, we could get our own little room. There was a row of them, separated from the rest of the floor with sliding glass doors. Otherwise, a big chair. He’d sleep, or watch movies. I’d do homework, read, look for nurses when he ran out of saline solution or needed another blanket.

“You’re lucky.”

And in the hospital, we were. Chemo until Christmas, radiation until Valentine’s Day. There were others in the hospital whose treatments had no end date.

“We’re lucky,” we kept saying, while his hair and eyebrows fell out, and his face thinned, eyes growing large in their sockets. His white blood cell count plummeted, leaving him with a weakened immune system, and he worked for an after-school program: lots of kids, lots of germs. He had to stop. Nothing to distract him from the nausea, while I went to work and he stayed at home, waiting. So much waiting. But, we joked, at least the cough was gone.

The last day of chemotherapy was two days before Christmas. He was exhausted, and giddy to be finished. We traveled home to visit family, relishing the break from our new reality. After the holidays, it was time for radiation. Which seemed to be better than chemo, hardly any side effects at all, until after several weeks it hurt to swallow, and he was reduced to drinking smoothies and speaking softly. But that too ended, just days before his 26th birthday, two months after our first anniversary.

It’s been five years now, and the cancer is still in remission. Life moves on, other things happen, and it’s tempting to block out those early memories, to forget that that was the first year of our marriage — the smell of hospitals, the quiet hours of waiting, the thinning hair and eyebrows.

Sometimes when going through old photos, I’ll come across one from that year, and pause. I’ll remember the refrain of the doctors, the nurses: “Hodgkin’s? You’re lucky.” And I’ll look across to where my husband is typing on the laptop, or watching the game, or just being goofy, and think, Yes. We were.

AnnaLouise Carter is a writer living in Los Angeles.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Marriage

50 Perfect Songs for Your First Wedding Dance

Wedding
Mallory Samson—Getty Images

Waltz off into wedded bliss to one of these favorite first-dance songs

This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com.

The first dance is one of the most anticipated and intimate moments of a wedding, so it’s no surprise that finding the right tune can feel challenging, even downright daunting. Well, start here: To narrow down your choices, we asked Real Simple’s Facebook fans to share their own first dance songs, then tallied up the 1,500+ responses to determine their 50 most popular tunes. Want to hear them? Log in to Spotify for our free playlist.

1. “At Last,” Etta James

2. “Colour My World,” Chicago*

3. “Amazed,” Lonestar

4. “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” Elvis Presley

5. “Unchained Melody,” the Righteous Brothers

6. “From This Moment On,” Shania Twain

7. “Could I Have This Dance,” Anne Murray

8. “Bless the Broken Road,” Rascal Flatts

9. “Unforgettable,” Nat King Cole

10. “My Best Friend,” Tim McGraw

(MORE: Why You Might Be Ruining Your Marriage Before You Even Tie the Knot)

11. “Have I Told You Lately?,” Van Morrison

12. “Wonderful Tonight,” Eric Clapton

13. “By Your Side,” Sade

14. “Endless Love,” Lionel Richie and Diana Ross

15. “The Way You Look Tonight,” Frank Sinatra

16. “When You Say Nothing At All,” Alison Krauss

17. “Just the Way You Are,” Billy Joel

18. “Always and Forever,” Heatwave

19. “What a Wonderful World,” Louis Armstrong

20. “All of Me,” John Legend

(MORE: Inspiring Stories of Marriage That Survived)

21. “I Only Have Eyes for You,” the Flamingos

22. “I’ll Be,” Edwin McCain

23. “Lucky,” Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat

24. “Always,” Atlantic Starr

25. “We’ve Only Just Begun,” the Carpenters

26. “Into the Mystic,” Van Morrison

27. “In My Life,” the Beatles*

28. “Let’s Stay Together,” Al Green

29. “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” Aerosmith

30. “God Gave Me You,” Blake Shelton

(MORE: 5 True Love Stories)

31. “I Could Not Ask for More,” Edwin McCain

32. “Your Song,” Elton John

33. “You Are the Best Thing,” Ray LaMontagne

34. “It Had to Be You,” Harry Connick Jr.

35. “You & Me,” Dave Matthews Band

36. “The Luckiest,” Ben Folds

37. “She’s Everything,” Brad Paisley

38. “Lady in Red,” Chris De Burgh

39. “You and Me,” Lifehouse

40. “Grow Old With You,” Adam Sandler

(MORE: Mother-Daughter Relationship)

41. “I Won’t Give Up,” Jason Mraz

42. “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” Frankie Valli

43. “Feels Like Home,” Chantal Kreviazuk

44. “Fly Me to the Moon,” Frank Sinatra

45. “Annie’s Song,” John Denver

46. “Come Away With Me,” Norah Jones

47. “God Only Knows,” the Beach Boys

48. “Free,” Zac Brown Band

49. “Stand by Me,” Ben E. King

50. “Yellow,” Coldplay

*Unfortunately, this song is not available for streaming on Spotify.

(MORE: 5 Things You Should Know About Your Mom)

MONEY Careers

Career Advice for the New Mrs. Clooney

141014_CA_MRSCLOONEY
Robino Salvatore—Getty Images

Amal Alamuddin is now Amal Clooney. Chances are the name change won't hurt the human-rights attorney's career, but less famous wives may want to do some planning before adopting a spouse's name in the workplace.

Just back in the office after getting hitched to an actor in Venice, London-based human-rights attorney Amal Alamuddin is going by a new name: Mrs. Clooney. While the former Ms. Alamuddin, 36, has established a professional reputation under her own moniker, it’s safe to say that being identified as the woman who got the sexiest man alive to settle down won’t damage her career prospects.

But what about accomplished women who aren’t boldface names by marriage or—like Kim Kardashian, who announced earlier this summer that henceforth she would be known as Mrs. West—boldface names in their own right? Suddenly appearing in the workplace as Mrs. So-and-So can cause some confusion among clients and colleagues.

As we noted when Kim made it official, the fact that women are marrying later, often after they’ve spent years establishing a career, can make the change to a new name more complicated—and risky. If you’re considering going by a different handle in the workplace, here are eight steps to ease the transition without hurting your prospects.

1. Hedge your bets. Think about how costly it would be to cut off your connection to the body of work or marketing that’s tied to your maiden name. If that worries you, opt for a more moderate approach. “The easy out is to keep your maiden name at work and in professional contexts, but use your spouse’s last name socially,” says Danielle Tate, founder of MissNowMrs.com, a site that helps women change their legal name.

Another compromise is to use both surnames, either by making your maiden name your middle name, using both last names, or creating a hyphenated last name. Kim took this approach initially. Shortly after exchanging vows with Kayne, she changed the name on her social media accounts to Kim Kardashian West. And just as Kim has done, you can use both surnames for a brief transition period to help people get used to your new identity before dropping your maiden name.

2. Get help from your company. If you plan on making a complete switch, reach out for advice. “You don’t have to figure it out all on your own. You’re not the only who has gotten married or changed your name,” says Michelle Friedman, a career coach who specializes in women’s career advancement.

A good first move is to check in with your HR department, which may have policies in place outlining exactly what changes you need to make to your beneficiary designations, insurance benefits, company email and directory listing, and tax and Social Security forms. Aside from offering help with name-change paperwork, HR may be able to offer advice about managing contacts, as well as insights into how others in your industry have handled the change successfully (ask co-workers too).

3. Don’t make it a surprise. Give co-workers and clients ample notice about your name change to avoid confusion, especially if contact info such as your email address will be updated. Sandra Green, a U.K.-based executive coach, recommends reaching out a week to ten days before the wedding.

One easy way: Put a small note in your email signature in advance, says Julie Cohen, a Philadelphia career and personal coach. It’s an unobtrusive reminder and a good way to get people familiar with the change.

Not everyone in your email contact list needs to know. Run through your list of clients and sort them into groups based on the closeness of your working relationship. Some you’ll just need to include in a quick email blast, while others you should talk to directly.

“Obviously you don’t want to get on the phone with everyone, but in certain important client relationships this may be good to do,” says Friedman.

4. Stay on top of the technology. After you’ve made the switch, set up forwarding on your previous email account, or write an automatic reply that includes your new contact info. This way you don’t miss any important messages, and people have a longer grace period to update their contact info and adjust to your new name.

5. Go back in history. Give former employers and references a heads-up about this change as well. This way if you’re applying for a new job, your background check will go smoothly, and you won’t run the risk of having people mistakenly deny that you worked for their company.

6. Use this as an excuse to network. Send an email to everyone in your work circle. “Whenever someone changes jobs or retires, they send these emails about good news,” says Cohen. “Do the same with this.”

This also gives you a perfect excuse to remind your network what you’re up to. “You always want to remain in contact,” says Friedman. “But sometimes it’s hard to think of a natural reason for reaching out. This gives you a celebratory excuse.”

You could even send this blast twice, says Green. First a few days before the wedding and again after you return from your honeymoon, when the change is in place.

7. Make yourself easy to find. Think about how people locate you and your business. Is it through search, a review website, social media, or all of them? Update all your bios.

When you add your new name on sites like LinkedIn, keep a vestige of your old name. That can help people find you during the transition period. “Include your maiden name on social,” says Cohen. “If people are finding you by search it will serve you best to keep connected to both names.”

If you had a more common name or are making the switch to a more popular surname, adds Tate, having both names online could even help you come up higher in search results.

8. Update your memberships. To further help your new name show up high in search results and build up credibility for your new moniker, Friedman recommends having any professional organizations, alumni associations, company or community boards, or other groups you belong to change your name on their membership roles.

If you hold a leadership position or are listed elsewhere on an association website, perhaps for winning an award, request that the name change appear throughout. Ask to have any older content that can easily be altered, such as a post listing you as a guest speaker at a conference, updated too.

 

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