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Our Wedding Rules


by Meg Keene, Editor-In-Chief

I’ve noticed that I’ve started making a small running list in my head of my own arbitrary wedding planning rules, and I thought I’d share what’s on the list so far:

  1. No DIY projects that involve tying hundreds of tiny bows.
  2. No favors. No apologies.
  3. No use of the word ‘lover’ in the ceremony. Period.
  4. No colors. I know, anarchy is next.*

Got your own?

*Oddly, of all the wedding decisions we’ve made, the one that we’ve taken the most heat for is not having wedding colors. Are you kidding me? Do we live in 1955? What is it about weddings and being unable to think outside the box? Whew. Vent over.

Meg Keene

Meg is the Founder and EIC of APW. Her first book, A Practical Wedding: Creative Solutions for Planning a Beautiful, Affordable, and Meaningful Celebration, was published in January 2012, and has been a top three bestseller on the wedding bookshelf ever since. Meg has her BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She lives in Oakland, CA with her husband and son. For more than you ever wanted to know about Meg, you can visit MegKeene.com.

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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05022522091692097344 diana

    Love your rules! I might do a little bow tying myself, but I am all about not having a wedding color scheme or favors. I was talking to my boy about favors, and he can’t remember a single one from any of the many weddings he was in in the last 10 years. So why waste that money?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11465853625720898199 MrsEm

    Great rules! Don't forget "Make yourself happy!" too.

    PS: H&M; is going nuts with the jewel tones right now. Might be a good place to point your bridal party.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12303562081840572906 Louise

    I know exactly what you mean about the colors. My fiancĂŠ and I decided a few months ago to not have colors. Sadly, after I chose the fabric for the bridesmaids dresses, that dream has almost been sabotaged several times. Apparently, it’s not really a wedding unless the bridesmaids, table runners, and candles are all the exact same hue.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00809881868659921820 FROM MARRIAGE TO MOTHERHOOD

    It’s all about making your wedding your own!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11371172824707301749 Cate Subrosa

    Great list.

    1. My sister kindly tied our 47 little bows, but only because we had this whole ribbon thing going on, kick-started by my dress. Ribbon does not a wedding make.

    2. Us too.

    3. I sooo would have been with you on this one, but we ended up choosing Union and I never got around to removing that word. I could write a whole post about how weddings really aren’t about sex.

    4. You should come over here. I read too much American stuff and mentioned our colours on on website and people asked me what on earth it was all about!

  • Anonymous

    i’m all for the no-engraved-picture-frames-or-other-stupid-favors rule, but what about a donation? it’s an excuse to do something nice!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11525991722450984283 Megan Schommer

    We have a growing list of rules too…

    -no round tables at the reception
    -the reception site can’t be somewhere with “crap on the walls” (his words- you know, like places with antiques all over, or farmhouses with farm memorabilia, or the like)
    -the dessert must be more than just cake! bring on the pie, truffles, tortes, etc etc etc!
    -no individual favors (we are thinking of doing a “favor barrel”, so people can take a little gift if they want one- it made me sad at my brother’s wedding to see so many left-behind favors after the reception was over)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02910792041310370797 For the Love of Brides

    I love these rules!

    My most important rule is…absolutely positively under no circumstances should there be tulle anywhere NEAR our wedding.

    I hate it!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12435697594154408096 jessica lynn

    agree with you 100% on rules 1-3. amen to those!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08842191847941847564 Bride in Exile

    I don’t get the fascination with wedding colors either. Within a week of getting engaged people were asking us what our “colors” were! “Uh … blue. Blue’s a color!”

    I’ve been telling people they’re navy blue, ivory, and jewel tones. Navy for the bridesmaids, ivory for the tables, and whatever the heck we feel like for flowers.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03208244458086146065 Blablover5

    My biggest rule was to keep the sap out.

    Neither of us like super sappy stuff for the sake of being sappy, so instead we had some rather snarky but very appropriate Pratchett quotes on our programs.

    And the other rule for our Halloween reception was no scarecrows. They’re either way too cute or really piss your pants scary.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06908075441268622061 Cassandra B

    So far my rules are:
    1. No garter toss
    2. I will not buy a special cake cutting knife set
    3. I will not buy special champagne toasting flutes

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10299296732319042119 Amber

    everytime i hear ‘lover’ in a ceremony i always do a slight ‘ooooooh hehe’ titter. cause i’m 12. or something.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06939935590766216936 Bridechka

    No chandeliers! No winding staircases! No picture where he bends me over backwards to kiss me as if we were some cheesy soap opera romance!

  • One Sorry Mother

    Seriously!? No wedding colors? Oh my.
    Back in MY day…..
    You’re cringing aren’t you. Well, I’m just kidding. I have found your website to be a breath of fresh air! My daughters are unmarried but at that age where many of their friends are in the process of planning weddings. I really enjoy the thoughtfulness and creativity of the contributors to your site.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00991638626164427455 Jessica

    Dear Meg, I love your rules! We’re not having colors either; the bridesmaids dresses aren’t going to match, nor the flower girls. It’s causing some incredible consternation in my family but I am not about to proscribe colors/fabrics/dresses for my friends.

    Slightly separate issue: over Thanksgiving, I got into an hour long quasi-heated discussion with my stepsister and mom about registries. I think I might have written in a comment here before how much I abhor the registry, and I tried to explain my reasons why to the family: I find it uncomfortable, primarily. Though of course I could get online and start lusting after objets and add them to my registry – I don’t want to encourage that in myself. I don’t want to encourage materialism, and object lust. And we don’t really need any stuff. We need a shower (we’re renovating an old house) and a fence, etc. So my Mom talked about registering at Lowe’s. But I keep coming back to the weirdness of it. I mean, it’s such a GIFT to be one of the 80 people or so who are going to come to this weddign! They’ll pay tons for gas, or a plane, and they’ll take Monday off (it’s a Sunday wedding) adn they’ll wear nice clothes and stay in a hotel, etc.! That is an expenditure of lots of energy, time and money – and it’s a gift to us. So why are people so uncomfortable with the idea of “no gifts allowed?” I mean, I’m not a gift Nazi. Maybe “we consider your presence a gift” on the invitation somewhere. Or something. Any ideas on this topic from your wedding graduates or you? Sorry to vent!!! thanks,
    Jessica

  • Stephanie

    Yes to “no colors!”

    Our vendors were so confused to this that I ended up sending them copies of our invitations to give them an idea of the feel we were going for.

    Interpreted to mean: Oh your invitation is brown, everything must be brown!

    ugh.

    Oh and 2 to add:
    1. No separation of “bridal party” and guests – no head table, special folks are special regardless of whether or not they stand up there with you.
    2. No “bathroom arrangements.” WTF?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17572133516556386284 *Michelle

    All I have to say is that for the “no colors” thing – just have an overall look in mind and you can make decision based on that. The colors are helpful for decisions and keeping things from getting CRAZY eclectic. (Don’t get me wrong – Im all for eclectic but at some point it can become an eye sore.)

  • http://pepperedmoth.livejournal.com Rosemary

    1.) If I can’t eat it and won’t use it again, I won’t buy it. This includes the dress.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05781496893928005690 Abbie

    It’s funny how people always ask the same questions!

    Love rule #1. We’re doing flip-flops as favors… I got them for $1 a piece when Old Navy had a promotion this summer. I figure it’ll be July, so people might want to kick their heels off.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00613198035060080351 jcranfill

    Meg, i just love your blog! i’m not doing favors or “colors” either and I agree, people think i’ve either totally lost it or i’m just being lazy! I don’t get it…

  • Anonymous

    Yay! All I can say is: A.men.sister.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01618363385541430055 Meg

    we don’t have colors either! we do, however, have a red-shoe thing happening, so if i’m talking with someone who is likely to be horrified, i just say “red.” (and then, of course, they’re horrified because “red isn’t a real wedding color!” um, what? people are crazy.)

  • Anonymous

    Awesome! I am totally with you on 1 2 and 3.

    I did end up choosing a color scheme however, because the event designer in me just screamed for one. And also because the boy was so nervous he might show up to a room swathed in blush pink that I felt it necessary to select a palette early on to assuage his fears. LOL

    Other rules include no tulle, no toasting glasses, no bubbles, no garters or toss, no bouquet toss, no slideshow, no head table, and… gee, am I even having a wedding??!?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12051581432652556410 Marina

    Our wedding rules:

    1) The marriage is more important than the wedding.

    2) Hanging out with people we love is more important than the wedding.

    3) Not being stressed is more important than the wedding.

    And if my parents weren’t paying for it, not going broke would probably be more important than the wedding too.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17999264774530749624 rebekah

    Lover makes me think of the SNL hot tub skit. “Would you like some lamb my lover?”

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08693407173311647505 Goddess Leonie * GoddessGuidebook.com

    Amen to all of this :)

    I’m also saying a big fat NO to people wearing crap that’s uncomfortable.

    Our wedding colours = RAINBOW.

    Our wedding party = Everyone who’s invited.

    Our ceremony = Sacred.

    Our marriage = bigger than the wedding.

  • Anonymous

    Its is so funny that you mention that you got so much heat for wedding colors. I don’t really have set wedding colors in mind. However I am having a Spring wedding hopefully, and so the colors just come with the theme and style. Love the rules though. I couldn’t imagine doing any of those things for my wedding although I wish I had the time.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16284789756635565982 Miss Glen Echo

    I think I have decided to do the opposite of you with the colors and have LOTS of colors…but my one main rule is NO WHITE! I think white looks cheap and uninteresting…no white chairs, no white linens, NO WHITE DRESS (well, maybe ivory or “eggshell”…but definitely NOT white).
    And, no friggin Unity Candle…what is that anyway and why is it neccesary?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09526722516550185150 Meg

    Oh d*mn it. Now I have to update the list to say no Unity Candle. I really really have some sort of illogical deep seated hatred of the Unity Candle. More like wrath.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10010855220044881380 Krista

    Don’t have many rules, but I have ideas in my head.
    1. No special knife to cut the cake ($50 for a special knife? Won’t a regular knife work the same?)
    2. No special toasting glasses (again, won’t regular glasses work?)
    3. If we do favours (and that’s a big IF), they will either be edible or useful. Nothing that will turn into garbage. So I’m thinking sugar almonds or chocolates or wildflower seeds. Or else nothing. Undecided.

    Great post, btw!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10648725099262152263 AmyJean {Relentless Bride}

    I love those rules! I’ve been contemplating the no colors rule too :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04349394209890946701 Dubbs

    Purchase no single item over $50 that will not be consumed or reused after the wedding (wedding dress didn’t count since the cost went towards a good cause).

    And yes, mission was accomplished. ;)

  • Anonymous

    Oh, I’m the queen of arbitrary rules. I like Rosemary’s rules. No hearts allowed at our wedding. I think there’s real freedom without wedding colors…I’m starting to feel like we needed a mascot to go with our colors.

  • Amy

    I love 2 and 3!!! Perfect.

    My only one right now is…

    No matching bridesmaid dresses, no you must all wear your hair this way, and wear this eyeshadow.

  • Sara

    I liked the “lovers” bit myself in our ceremony, but that word was definitely not in our vows. We were of the opinion more colors, the better!

    1. No video!
    2. Food must be great, cakes included
    3. There will be laughter and joy, and as little crying as possible (esp. from the bride!)
    4. No DJ
    5. No champagne toast(s)
    6. No flower girls/ring bearer
    7. No garters or unity candle
    8. Must be drummers and dancers

    I’m sure there are more in there somewhere. We did have a “special” cake cutter – it is the cake cutter from the set of silver my grandmother left me (specifically – my name is written in the silver box).

  • http://downtomysoul.wordpress.com/ downtomysoul

    Oh I love this!

    Ours:

    1. No favours
    2. No sit down formal dinner with allocated tables.
    3. No guest + partner. We only want to have people we know and love. If guests currently don’t have partners we have invited them on their own.
    4. No sand pouring or candle lighting or anything like that in the ceremony. Beautiful words are enough.
    5. No registry. We think a registry is insulting. Our guests know us well enough to choose their own gifts, although we have expressly stated that gifts are not expected.
    6. No matching anything.

  • Sara2

    Oh, I gag at the unity candle. And how about the sandpouring thing, what is that?? Don’t they have that activity booth at carnivals?
    I love your rules.
    Although, in reference to other’s comments, the registry has been a relief for me when attending someone’s wedding. Especially, when the couple has a home together already.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01155359646434156923 Alice

    I couldn’t agree more. Bow’s are gross, favors are a pain in the ass, and why should a wedding only have one color??? Glad I’m not the only anti-color bride. :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16589441861206639754 Allison

    I love your rules. You’ve kicked up the sass a notch on your blog and it’s great!

  • Kim

    I’m not having colors either – black and white for us. :) I love it!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09745779102017816538 Jackie

    My boyfriend and I’s pet name for each other is “lover” so I imagine that will be in my ceremony somewhere.

    But as for colors, I totally agree. And flowers…I’m going to Acme or something that day to pick a bouque for me and flowers for the tables. I can’t see the point in needing everything matchy matchy.

    And my one “must” rule…we MUST have a cake with a Mario Brothers theme. (We’re baking our own cake buffet).

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08511117741320344532 Julia

    amen, numbers 2 &4. also – totally agreeing with those who've said "marriage more important than wedding". personally, I'm adding these two:

    1. no scheduled toilet breaks – the day-of schedule, if there must be one, will run in increments of no less than 1 hour!!!

    2. The bridesmaids will wear shoes that they are comfortable in, and not ones that I believe are necessary to complete the wedding.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13781314774264492284 blind irish pirate

    I giggle-snorted when a previous commenter grumped about the unity candle. When I grump about them, you think I’d have spat on the Holy Bible or something…

    and it’s NOT. Holy, I mean. Or biblical, for that matter.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18109285188206811042 Joanna Goddard

    no favors! yippee! :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01919354441075296164 Marni

    Our most firm rule is, “If neither of us have never met them, they’re not invited.”

    We hold firm and are inflexible.

    (can you tell we’re having some parental issues?)

  • Lisa Hirsch

    Wow I’m so glad you have this site otherwise I’d probably think I was nuts. Everyone insists that I have to have colors. I have no colors. I have flowers that I like. Blue hydrangeas for the bouquet and multicolored snapdragons for the reception. But I am not choosing “colors.”

    AND we’re not assembling anything complicated. I am giving away seed packets as favors, and my thought was to print something nice on a label and slap it onto the seed packets. My friend wants me to put a handful of seeds in a favor box and tie it with a bow. Um no. Why? Because it’s too much work and wouldn’t people rather just have a seed packet anyway? They can just throw it in their purse or their pocket! People are crazy.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06421997839879080174 Accidental Housewife

    Awesome! It’s been crazy hard not to snark about my rules since almost all of our friends (who have ALL gotten married in the last ten years, and we’ve gone to ALL of their weddings!)have included almost ALL of these gag-worthy details:
    NO wedding at centre court. There have GOT to be options other than gyms, aren’t there?
    NO unity candle, coloured sand, freaky coloured gel crystals, glass pebbles, etc.
    NO baby’s breath.
    NO tuxes. Seriously, when all your guest are wearing a shirt and tie and cute cocktail or sundresses, does your bridal party NEED tuxedos and floor length satin gowns?
    NO garter toss. Between me and the man, thanks.
    NO DJ. I want NO excuse for crap music at my wedding.
    NO expensive dress. Honestly, the number of weddings I’ve been to with baloons and paper plates but the bride is wearing a $1000 gown?! WTF?
    NO tulle, trellis, fake ivy, columns, etc.
    No lying in front of a priest just to be married in a pretty church. If you don’t believe in it, don’t do it.
    No white shoes.
    No big bridal party.
    No making your wedding party look like anyone other than their awesome selves.
    NO dried roast beef/turkey, bland mashed potatoes, frozen mixed vegetables.
    NO letting people convince you it’s less special if you’ve been together a long time.
    And on a happier note!
    DO keep traditions that you love.
    DO take the chance to spoil yourselves a little. A new suit for the man? Excellent.
    DO include fewer, more beautfiful, better quality details.
    DO showoff the best iTunes collection this side of the 49th parallel
    DO take the opportunity to say, publicly, how you really feel about each other.
    DO refuse to accept that you have to have a crappy wedding because you have no money.
    DO have FUN. It might be more work when you DIY or have to really search and barter, but the fact is it’s NOT just one day! It can be a whole little journey where you connect with your family and friends and rediscover just how exciting it can be to say “I Love You”!

  • Rianna

    # 3 is the best wedding rule EVER.

    I just stumbled onto your blog and I think I’m in love. These are the best stories/postings I’ve seen in a long time! Well done!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03908825712538113936 Beth Chasing

    I would add to the tiny bows…no making a million tiny hangers for tiny dresses out of wire–bleeding fingers! (bad quincenera experience).

    The whole bridesmaid discussion is fascinating. I've been a bridesmaid several times and I don't like feeling like a clone. Girls are so different and unique, and I want my girls to feel pretty and special at my wedding not like an accessory.

  • Sarah stockmann

    Ah, no colors.

    I remember that when I got engaged, the first quetion out of an elders’ mouth was: “What are your colors? Well, you will HAVE to choose them” and that cemented my desire to just go to the courthouse and Get It Done. Which we did and I’ve never regreted it.

  • Lindsay

    NO FAVORS!!!

    When did wedding Invitees turn into six-year-olds at a birthday party?? Will attendees be disgruntled if they don’t receive some cheap little favor?? If the point of a favor is to be a rememberence of your wedding, isn’t there something wrong if the event were that unmemorable that you need a trinket to remember it by? And really, do we need M&Ms with your heads printed on them?

  • Madeleine

    Ha!

    Here are a few new ones, (thanks to pinterest):

    – No Mason jars
    – No ‘rustic chic’
    – No, absolutely NO cupcakes!
    – No Save the Date cards
    – No unique, quirky love shoot ideas, stolen straight from pinterest.
    – Nothing monogrammed
    – No garments with ‘bride’ or ‘bridesmaid’ on it.
    – No use of the word ‘wifey’. Or ‘whimsical’, for that matter.
    – Nothing from Etsy
    – No unity candle
    – No sand ceremony
    – No pressuring your bridal party into making all of those horrible favors and burlap decorations. If you insist on cutting costs by making a poor attempt, rather than just leaving it out, by all means go ahead, but it’s called diY for a reason.

    I’m so sick and tired of seeing the same unique, rustic chic, retro, vintage, DIY, mason jar and cupcake infested, soft focus wedding pictures. It almost makes me yearn for the harsh-white synthetic fiber weddings of the 80’s and 90’s, with added poofiness!

    Ha! That’s my general list. The list for my own, very understated, wedding is even longer!

  • Jenna

    I can tell you as a bridal consultant, that I want to gouge my eyes out every time a girl comes in and tells me her theme is “rustic, country, vintage chic” and I want to tell her, YEA YOU AND EVERYONE ELSE. Seriously, enough with the burlap and lace and paper straws and mason jars and barns and boots and UGH!!!

    But, since I am getting married too, here are my rules:
    No color scheme.
    No “bridesmaids” dresses. A beautiful evening gown of her choosing will look so much better.
    No “getting ready” pictures. Not everything needs to be documented for posterity.
    No videographer. (People think I’m nuts on this one) if you weren’t there, well you damn well missed out. Plus, I want to remember my wedding day from my point of view, not have it super ceded with images from a video.
    No “cutesy” pictures. No one jumping, no shoe pictures, and no close ups of hands or rings or slightly out of focus nonsense. When I think of good wedding pictures, I think of Howell Conant’s photos of Grace Kelly’s wedding. Stately, serious, and very elegant. This is quite possibly the most serious commitment you will ever make in your life, treat it with respect.
    DO maintain the traditions that are important. A ceremony should last longer than 10-15 minutes.