Weddings should be moments not money

When did extravagant weddings become a thing for every day people? Years ago, those were the weddings you watched on television because it was Princess Diana that was getting married rather than Jennifer, your friend from high school.
However, times have changed and this bridesmatron has had to learn to get with it.
Four weddings in the past six months is a lot for a person to handle. Four weddings means four bridesmaid dresses, four bachelorette trips, for wedding trips, four sets of showers and that's if they only have one!
This past weekend my little brother got married. The wedding was amazing. It was a beach wedding with rehearsal dinner in the sand and the ceremony in a gorgeous all white chapel.
Her dress was amazing, I always stand on the other side of her in family photos; she's that pretty, and my little brother was the most handsome I've ever seen.
We were plucked and made up by an amazing Instagram famous make up artist, my hair was teased and then flattened before being beach waved by one of the greatest hair stylists in Florida.
Meanwhile, photos were snapped all around us by one of Atlanta's best photographers.
After they said I do, we were ushered to a reception with bistro lights, a DJ, hanging chandeliers and flowers from above us in the trees, antique tables and gorgeous mirrors, and I haven't even mentioned the food and drink.
Again, this was extravagance like you would not believe and this is one of those weddings we will most definitely read about in a magazine.
However, the best parts — seeing my little brother kiss his high school sweetheart and call her his wife; holding hands with my two younger brothers and praying blessings over the marriage before going down the aisle; and listening to my 6'6 baby brother tell his eldest how proud he was, how excited he was, and how beautiful his new sister-in-law looked that night.
The best part was seeing this 10-year-love finally come together before friends and family.
That didn't cost a dime.
Now, I would most definitely be a fraud if I didn't disclose certain facts about myself, such as the fact that I myself have been a bride and was taken away from my wedding in a horse drawn Cinderella carriage after toasting with very expensive champagne.
But now I'm older and wiser and barely remember all of those fancy things we paid top dollar for because my favorite part of the entire night wasn't my ceremony, the dancing, the food, or even the makeup.
My favorite part was when Cleveland's skies opened up and this torrential downpour came, absolutely soaking myself and my new husband in our very fancy princess carriage.
I probably should have cried because my dress was sopping wet, but I remember looking at him and laughing. It was one of my top 10 favorite laughs of all time right after the first time I heard my daughter's laugh.
But that's my point, that laugh was free. That laugh came from marrying my best friend and from knowing I get to sit in thunderstorms with him for the rest of my life.
The extravagance was wonderful. The chandeliers were absolutely gorgeous.
But when all of that fades, the love of my not-so-little brother and his stunning bride, my new sister, are what people will remember.
Because love, my friends, don't cost a thing.

Courtney Warren is a reporter with The Bolivar Commercial. She may be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


National Library Week —

The week of April 8 – 14 marks the 60th anniversary of the first National Library Week celebration. From its beginning, National Library Week has been designated as a time to encourage people to read to improve their quality of life while developing, via sharing with others, a strong and happy family life.  The week also provides a reminder to be thankful for the services provided by those government entities that prioritize the well-being and the advancement of its citizenry by providing library resources.  Indeed, libraries of all types serve as catalysts in their communities, offering opportunities for children and adults alike to learn, grow and achieve their dreams. In addition to providing access to books, e-books, computers and other resources, public, school, and academic libraries offer expert teaching and guidance to aid library users in their quest to open new worlds and change lives.
Libraries have historically served as our nation’s great equalizers of knowledge, providing free access to information for all people. Today’s libraries continue this tradition. National Library Week is therefore a reminder to all Americans that today’s libraries are not just about what they have for people, but what they do for and with people. Increasingly, libraries are places of creativity where people can utilize invaluable resources that serve as a lifeline, including access to technology, job-seeking resources, social services and small business tools.
Libraries have become much more than just a selection of books with a quiet place of study. Mississippi’s libraries have transformed from sedate institutions into creative and engaging community centers where diverse groups come together for common purposes, to share ideas, to collaborate and acquire new knowledge.  Librarians are available to assist patrons in using increasingly complex technology and sorting through the potentially overwhelming mass of information bombarding today's digital society. This is especially crucial when access to reliable and trustworthy data is more important than ever.
Celebrations during National Library Week include:  Monday, April 9: State of America's Libraries Report released, including Top Ten Frequently Challenged Books of 2017; Tuesday, April 10: National Library Workers Day, a day for library staff, users, administrators, and friends groups to recognize the valuable contributions made by all library workers; and, Wednesday, April 11: National Bookmobile Day, a day to recognize the contributions of our nation's bookmobiles and the dedicated professionals who make quality bookmobile outreach possible in their communities.
Hulen E. Bivins
Executive Director
Mississippi Library Commission


My shining Christmas present

My plan was to wait and write a column about Crawford’s progress with reading and school in the spring but my excitement has just got me too anxious to wait.

Those who may not know, Crawford was diagnosed with dyslexia and ADHD several years ago. Our journey has been long, painful and frustrating but we are finally on the other side of the rugged mountain.


The gift of family

A church children’s program can somehow always put a different spin on what is going on around me. Maybe it is seeing things through the eyes of a child or because it brings the point of the whole holiday home right to your heart.
The kids dress up, sing and follow the story of Jesus’ birth. That is the reason we do all we do this season and it puts my heart on my family.
Family ... it is something we take for granted but it is something a lot of us have. We don’t just have one family; most of us have many families in our lives if we think about it.
I have my personal family, and I love mine more than anything. I have the best Mama, the greatest husband and my miracle baby. I have aunts, uncles and cousins that I wouldn’t trade for the world.
But, I have more families in my life. They all are important to me and have made me who I am today.
I have my childhood friends who I don’t see a lot but it feels like we just pick up from where we left off when I do see them. They know my past and are still my friend despite anything they may know about from when I was a kid. They helped make those skeletons in my closet and certainly don’t judge.
My church family is equally important. Most of these people have watched me grow up or have grown up with me. We have all been through the church changes, funerals, holidays and babies. It is something about a bond you have with folks that you worship God with every week. We are all there as human beings who are flawed and need forgiveness for one thing or another. Hopefully we all find the peace we need to continue on through our lifetime journey.
Crawford has given me another family. His school is a wonderful family. The administrators, teachers and staff are all a great source of friendship and caring especially for Crawford. I myself have made friends with many mothers who respect those who educate our children. We all can talk about what is going on and help each other out when someone needs it. We all want our children to be the best they can be.
Still on the school front, this year I have made another family with my fellow officers of the Patron’s League. We have all learned together about the way we need to support our school. We brainstorm together and come up with ways we can help but most of all we have fun. We do have fun even if our kids are in different levels of school because we support one goal. It shows our children the importance of volunteerism.
I wouldn’t trade my work family for anything. We laugh and cry together. We help each other out and we love each other’s kids. We know each other’s families. We spend so much time together that we all blend together. Our strengths and weaknesses balance out to where we are a great team. Most of The Bolivar Commercial is so much more than coworkers ... they are friends and some are like my siblings. We are a fun and quirky group.
While thinking about all these families that I have and some that are in my past, I am thankful for each and every one of them. This Christmas time we should reach out to each other. Think of those who have lost family or those who have sick ones. Remember the elderly who in some cases don’t have anyone to bring them joy in this time of year. Try to help a hungry child or a homeless person. These people need someone ... someone just to make them feel like they are important just because they are a part of our human race.


Caroline Laster is an employee of The Bolivar Commercial. She may be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.