As a Christmas-and-engagement present to myself, I bought a copy of A Practical Wedding: Creative Ideas for Planning a Beautiful, Affordable, and Meaningful Celebration. It's by Meg Keene, who created A Practical Wedding the blog while planning her own wedding a few years ago. After reading a post on her site today I decided to write something here about the book.*
I can't remember how I stumbled onto A Practical Wedding, but I'm glad that it's one of the first wedding-related media I found. Meg and the other writers present a sane account of a variety of wedding issues, along with stories from couples planning their weddings and "Wedding Graduates" who share what they've learned. She's a proud feminist and I admire the way she writes about LGBTQ couples (just when you thought a hetero wedding couldn't be any more complicated).
While we're pretty excited to be engaged, John and I both have reservations about wedding planning. So many people we know are happy for us, and I'm incredibly grateful for that. But in the short time we've been engaged, I've already gotten a small sense of how many expectations come with wedding planning. Meg covers a lot of the issues that concern me, and she does it with compassion for all parties involved. She also discusses something she calls the Wedding Industrial Complex, and the perceived need to have OMG EVERYTHING at your wedding, but to also make it as personalized as possible (read: spend money). This book devotes a whole chapter to the history of the modern wedding (which I obviously love), and points out that many traditions that we may consider super important are less than 50 years old. Her point is not to abolish wedding traditions, if, say, you really love the idea of walking down the aisle. She just means that if you don't want an aisle at all, your wedding can still be meaningful. The same goes for favors, a unity candle, a white dress, a sit down dinner, or fancy chair covers.
Unless you really like fancy chairs, in which case, go for it. That's the tenor of the book, more or less, and I find it helpful as I start to think about wedding plans. John and I want our wedding to have some very traditional elements, but it's nice to have some guidance on how to sort out which traditions are important to us. For example: yes, we're having attendants, but they won't be divided by gender (in fact, we're having one big ol' group of them, and we're calling it the Fellowship of the Ring. I know).
The book the blog also deal with difficult topics, like how to grieve the fact that, for whatever reason, you may not have both parents with you to plan your wedding. She has stories of couples planning their wedding while one is severely ill, or when a parent dies close to the wedding date. While I'm grateful not to be in that situation, it is interesting to read accounts of people who overcame them, and to think "if those people can plan a wedding while their dad had cancer, then surely we can do this without making ourselves crazy."
Some other general guidelines from the book and the website:
- "I will not remember what my wedding looked like; I will remember what it felt like."
- If, at the end of the day, two people marry each other, then your wedding was a success.
- One and done. As in, make a choice and stick with it. Second guessing will make us all nuts.
- Your wedding guests are "grown ass" adults (unless they are, you know, actual children) and it's ok to treat them accordingly.
- Where you spend money matters more than how much you spend, and spending money is a political act.
So that's my 2 cents. Our wedding will probably be a fairly frequent topic here, but this isn't a wedding blog. Obviously, it's a stuff-we-eat-and-happen-to-do blog, and I don't want to ruin that incredibly consistent theme by letting the wedding take over. Just a wedding-related post now and then.
*Meg posted these ads a couple days ago on A Practical Wedding and gave permission for people to use them on blogs, websites, etc, as ads for the book. As usual, I'm not receiving any kind of compensation for this post and I payed for the book myself.