A new venture

Happy Friday!

I’m so excited to share two new offerings I’ve been working on for several months behind the scenes that will be debuting soon!  These new ventures are things near and dear to my heart and are at the core of who I am and what Madelyn Ridgeway Events is about.  Without further ado……….



MRE Learning blends my past as a facilitator and community specialist with my love of planning events, encouraging others and supporting the development of strong relationships.  It’s who I am at my core and what Madelyn Ridgeway Events stands for.  Offerings for the learning sessions will include all sorts of creative classes taught by some of the most creative minds in Iowa and the Midwest!  We’ll have sewing, photography, painting,  calligraphy and floral design classes (just to name a few) that you and your girlfriends can spend the day enjoying.  It will also feature exclusive events for couples and families that provide new, fun and innovative opportunities for learning and socializing in the Cedar Valley.


Many people don’t know this but for as long as I can remember, I’ve had an affection for pretty paper and stationery; my extensive collection of wrapping paper and notecards are a testament to that affection! For years now, I’ve designed custom stationery and products at the request of clients for events but never for general sell.

MRE Creative is a collection of prints, notecards and helpful mommy items that feature fun and encouraging words. The goals of each of item is to give you a way of encouraging others or yourself and to make make your life a little easier, something I’m sure we all can use.  I’ve been busy working to design each piece so each is near and dear to my heart.  I know you’ll enjoy them as much as I do.   There may even be a few Christmas card options for those of you who like thoughtful and fun family photo cards for the holidays!

Here are a few sample few pieces from the 2014-15 line.

coming-soonWant to earn a sweet discount and help me out in 3 easy steps?

1) Click here and sign-up for our newsletter. In about a week you’ll receive the inaugural edition of LOVE NOTES,  the monthly newsletter of behind-the-scenes happenings and special tips from Madelyn Ridgeway Events.

2) Take a short survey to tell us your thoughts.

3) Stalk your inbox for a coupon code on your first MRE Creative or Learning purchase!

Doesn’t that sound easy?  Not to mention you’ve done a good deed for the day and made me one happy girl!

So tell me, what are you most excited about from the announcement?

Marriage Series: Madelyn & Shaffer Ridgeway

This week I”m excited to feature my own love story.  Believe me when I say that our marriage is a true testament to the fact that Love Always Wins! My husband is my best friend, my biggest cheerleader, my personal comedian, and all-around partner.  To say I love and appreciate him is an understatement!



engagement photoengagement photo, 2001

wedding picture

Wedding Day, 2002

Ridgeway-presentMay, 2013

1. How long have you been married? We were married September 7, 2002 so as of today, 11 years

2. Tell us about your love story.

Madelyn- Although our hometowns are not far apart from each other in rural Alabama, we didn’t meet until we were both students at Alabama A&M University in Huntsville, AL.  We both had majors in the school of Agriculture and were required to take a Computers in Agriculture class. I took it at 8 am and Shaffer took it at 10 am. One day we were both in the lab after hours with other students working on an assignment for the class; each student had to create some type of letter or invitation and do a mail merge with a database we had created.  My invitation was a mock 21st birthday party invitation, of course!  As entertainment for my mock party, I listed a DJ that was very popular in both our hometowns.  As I was printing the invitations to the one printer in the lab, Shaffer was standing at the printer waiting on something to be printed also.  As he nosily picked up my invitation, and noticed the DJ’s name, he screams out across the room “who in here knows Dr. Rock!?”  I responded with “I do! Why?”.

A few days later I convinced my friend Wanda to talk to him and see if he was interested in me.  In his “own way” he said he was and the rest is history!  It was 6 loooonnnngg years later when were engaged on September 8, 2001.

3. Tell us a bit about your wedding (color, location, attendants, etc). Is there anything you would change?

We were married in an outdoor ceremony at a Southern, antebellum mansion named Gaineswood,  in my hometown of Demopolis, Alabama.  The bridesmaids wore orchid/lavender, two-piece, a-line ensembles with silver shoes while the groomsmen wore grey tuxedos.  We had a total of 8 attendants each,  3 flower girls, 2 ring bearers, a mini bride & groom, and several personal attendants.  My attendants and I walked up the aisle under 100 year old crepe myrtles that had grown together to form an arch overhead- gorgeous and the epitome of Southern! Our reception was held at the Demopolis Civic Center which overlooks the Tombigbee River home of the well-known Christmas on the River.

Madelyn– I would change two things about our wedding day: (1) I would have a smaller more intimate wedding.  We sought to please so many people by adding everybody that wanted to be a part of the day.  At some point, it became overwhelming.  (2) I would take the time to enjoy the day and my guest more. The planner in me refused to let go of so many things.  I was depending on so many friends and family to handle things and many things didn’t happen because of that and I found myself frustrated and upset at times on what should have been one of the happiest days of my life.

Shaffer– I would have more dancing at the reception!

4. What is your favorite wedding memory?

Madelyn Jumping the broom!

Shaffer  Seeing Madelyn walk down the aisle and escorting my Mom to her seat.  My mom had been very sick for years with kidney disease and the question arose several times if she would ever make it to my wedding. To be able to walk her down the aisle to her seat was an experience I sometimes thought I might not have.

5. What is the key to making your marriage successful?

Madelyn–  Keep God first in your individual lives, learn to let things go and remember to laugh often together. Shaffer and I are always on the lookout for what we call “good material”-  stuff that we can use later to laugh at when it’s just us.

Shaffer– (1) Knowing that this is a lifelong commitment and you have a covenant with God and your spouse.  (2) Asking yourself during an argument, “will this matter tomorrow”? (3)  Allow your mate to be themselves.

6. What are some of your favorite things to do together as a couple?

Madelyn  Dream big together & travel- We were married seven years before we had our first child so we traveled a lot.  Some long trips and many short, weekend trips.  We found that many of our best dream sessions and funniest moments happened as we were driving down the road and just talking. Even today,  we love taking trips just because of the great conversations we seem to have.

Shaffer–  Because Madelyn is my best friend, I just like spending any kind of time with her.

7. What would you tell the younger you on the eve of your wedding day?

Madelyn- Focus as much on your marriage as you are on your wedding.  Prepare to be a loving and caring wife.  I was so caught up in getting married and having the perfect wedding that I forgot to really pray and prepare for being a good wife and partner to my future husband.

Oh, and get another hairstyle for tomorrow!  You’ll regret the one you have planned.

8. What does LAW (love always wins) mean to you as a couple?

Madelyn– Keep love at the center of your relationship always.  If you focus on God’s definition of love (I Corinthians 13), you’ll never lose and your marriage will always flourish.

Shaffer– Love conquers all.  The bible tells husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church.  When I think about how much He loved us and what he did for us in spite  of what we’ve done, I can always find a way to forgive or do whatever is needed to get through troubled times.

9. How did you know your spouse was the right one for you?

Madelyn– It took me a while to figure out what I really wanted in a spouse.  In the beginning I just thought it was cool and fun to have a boyfriend!  Once I realized that having someone who loved the Lord, had a strong work ethic and made me laugh was important to me, I knew Shaffer was the one.

Shaffer– Madelyn really complements me in so many ways.  After realizing what it was that God had planned in my life, I knew I would need some help.  I also needed someone that didn’t mind dreaming big.  Madelyn is that person.

10. What is your best marriage advice for couples soon to be married or considering marriage?

You really do have to have more than a natural, physical love to make marriage last.  There will be days when you love your spouse but you don’t like them very much.  Many things that you were smitten with in the beginning may annoy the heck out of you in later years. You need something deeper at the core of your relationship than just a natural, physical love.

We were both children of divorce and realized early on how that had negatively effected us.  We both agreed that divorce wasn’t an option and we would do what it takes to make our marriage work.  That determination, as well as having God at the foundation of both of our lives individually (not just as a couple),  has been the secret sauce to our successful marriage.

Marriage Series with Al & Donna Ricks

Today in the Love Always Wins Marriage Series I’m featuring a couple with one of the most unique love stories I’ve yet to come across, Al & Donna Ricks.  Al and I worked together for several years in my former life and I had the privilege of getting to know him and meeting Donna.  Al is one of the most kind and thoughtful people I know.  His love for his family is evident when talking with him, especially his grandkids!  I introduce to you, Al & Donna Ricks’  marriage story!



1. How long have you been married?

In September, 2014 we will have been married 40 years.

2. Tell us about your love story.

We enjoy telling people that we were married without ever having a date – and it’s true.    We were good friends in college, but did not date.  Al joined the Peace Corps immediately after college, and was assigned to Ethiopia.   As the old saying goes, “absence makes the heart grow fonder.”  He proposed by tape recording from Ethiopia, then waited six weeks for the return mail to bring an answer.   Donna was working in Cedar Falls, and when Al got home, he immediately took employment in southern Iowa.  So, for the next several months we would meet to  plan the wedding, but never to “go on a date” like going to a movie or going bowling.  We were married in September – and it stuck!

3. Tell us a bit about your wedding (color, location, attendants, etc). Is there anything you would change?

We were married at First United Methodist Church in Cedar Falls.  Our wedding colors were forest green and emerald gold (very popular colors then).  Relatives and close friends served as our attendants.  We held the start of the events a few minutes to make sure that Donna’s grandmother had arrived.  The ceremony was presided over by the pastor of the church and a favorite college professor.  The professor’s wife (also a college teacher of ours) sang.  After the ceremony we all went to the church basement for a “traditional” reception of cake, punch, and homemade mints, while the aunts unwrapped and displayed our gifts – just the way it was done in those day! What would we change?  Being able to open our own gifts!

4. What is your favorite wedding memory?

For Al:  Having communion with family and wedding attendants in the chapel of the church prior to the actual ceremony.

Donna’s:  Having family and close friends all in attendance was and remains very special.  Additionally, Al thought he was clever by asking the best man to hide his car so no cans could be  tied to it nor rice thrown on it.  Little did Al know that the best man, who went to get the car following the reception, plotted to  throw rice all over the inside!

5. What is the key to making your marriage successful?

Trying to be supportive of each other’s careers and life choices in our marriage.  We have had very distinct careers – but have tried to find ways to make sure we have been supportive of the other in following her/his dreams.  Also, keeping a strong focus on faith and family.

6. What are some of your favorite things to do together as a couple?

Now we enjoy every minute we can get with grand kids!  After retirement we moved so that we could be closer to them.  It has been wonderful.  We enjoy spending time with our family.  We also like to work in our home and in the kitchen (sometimes together – and sometimes it is best to keep a bit of separation!)  We sing in the church choir and we both play in a bell choir.  We enjoy traveling as time and resources permit. We have season tickets with a couple who have been friends for  35 years  to the Des Moines Civic Center and enjoy seeing a variety of plays/shows each year.

7. What would you tell the younger you on the eve of your wedding day?

Al:  Be ready for lots of surprises!  At 24 I thought I rather had life figured out.  Boy, was I wrong about that!  There have been so many surprises in the “script” – but they have been ok, and, ultimately, I believe they’ve been in God’s keeping.

Donna:  I would agree with Al’s take on this.  Our marriage and lives have gone in many directions that  we could never have predicted!

8. What does LAW (love always wins) mean to you as a couple?

Through the years – the ups, downs, the routines and the challenges, the joys and the sorrows,  there’s that bedrock sense that “we’re in this together.”    That’s a commitment we made 40 years ago, and by doing so we’re not walking through life alone.

9. How did you know your spouse was the right one for you?

Al:  I knew from the way she “hit it off” with my parents.  They had it figured out before I did.

Donna: My best friend was Al’s girl friend his senior year of college (I am a year older). When he went to the Peace Corps she told  me they had decided to halt their relationship since he was leaving.  She told me he and I would make a good team.  Seed planted! Al and I had been good friends for several years. Marrying your good friend with like backgrounds, goals, and beliefs seemed the right thing to do.  No regrets!

10. What is your best marriage advice for couples soon to be married or considering marriage?

Keep some laughter going.  There are more than enough serious challenges along the way.  You’d better be able to still be friends at the end of the day.  Interjecting some laughter and fun into the relationship really helps.