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An Open Letter To America


by Meg Keene, Editor-In-Chief

So, I have of late, been overhearing the most surreal and over the top wedding conversations. I’ll be sitting at a bar, drinking my drink, and suddenly I’m overhearing a conversation about weddings that is so nuts, that I become totally convinced that I’m on some sort of episode of punk’d (blogger style). The most recent over-the-top conversation* went something like this:

Planner: So I was thinking that we could set up individual tables, scattered among the trees in the forest.
Me: Poking David, eyes wide
Planner: And then, I thought we could plant flowers to physically build a aisle on the forest floor.
Me: Poke, Poke, Poke, BLINK ????
Bride and Groom: (blase) Oh, yeah. That sounds nice. I’m sure that would work just fine.
Me: Slams head into bar

Now, what is weirdest about these conversations, is that every single time I hear one, no matter how outlandish the plans, the couple does not react in a way that seems sensible, which in my mind would be one of two ways:
Option #1: “Oh my god! That sounds amazing! That sounds incredible! That sounds out of this world!”
Option #2: “Dear Lord, that seems totally absurd.”
Nope. The response is always a blase “Eh, that sounds fine.” So, I’m afraid that I must respond to this nonsense with an open letter:

Dear America,
Please dial it the h*ll down. You’re freaking me out.

Best,
Meg

*Totally, totally true story. Except me slamming my head on the bar. That was a lie.

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 the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and son.

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

    Don’t worry, Meg, you’re going to get your wish. I’m pretty sure America (and the UK, and plenty of other places) are going to be dialling it down big time over the next few months! I just hope people carry on getting married, but in more reasonable ways.

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

    It’s really hard to go up to someone who has a different and wild plan and tell them holy hell that’s dumb as hell. Well unless you want them to hate you.

    Think of all the times you’re shown a picture of a ring or dress that all you can think is “That’s hideous as hell” because it just isn’t your taste but you smile and say that you think it’s lovely. Or if you can’t outright lie it’s interesting.

    People just build a little bubble around themselves when it comes to weddings (and kids) that all their ideas are great no matter what.

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

    First off, I’m not saying its dumb as hell. It was an example of one of many WAY over the top wedding conversations I’ve heard of late – I live in a big expensive yuppie city, after all ;) And yes, as a real person I totally do have opinions on this stuff. This particular idea could actually be cool as hell, which is why I used it as an example. Unfortunitly, in this case, given the setting and the tone of the conversation, it seemed far more of a “how lavish and over the top expensive can we possibly be to impress people” plan than a cool Indie loving the forest plan. But regardless, I do reserve the right to have opinions on blog, my dears!

    And no, I would never go up to someone and tell them their wedding plans were dumb. Ever. And when I transcribe things here, they are altered enough so as to not be recognizable.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05955067991628905693 Bookbag

    I agree — this plan seems like a lot of work and it could turn out either great or awful. Neither of which merits “meh. whatever.” as a response. Where’s the enthusiasm?

    That said, weddings can really suck the life out of you. So I can empathize.

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

    Meghan -
    Ha. So true. That’s it’s own topic I think. How do you keep your soul inside your body and plan a wedding ;)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09719798812778250015 Nicole

    Just stopping by to comment on your letter to America. Loved it.

  • http://www.jnyfritz.wordpress.com fritz

    OMG! Thank you!

  • http://lovestained.wordpress.com jenifriend in kansas

    I think I just peed a little because I was laughing so hard. Thanks Meg…I’m at work and now I have to go home to change my clothes.

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

    Haha, im kinda sad the head slamming was false, it made me giggle big time.

  • Maddie

    Meg, you are my wedding conscience.

    I wish I had you in my head instead of on my computer.

    I live in this big expensive city too. From now on I think I’m going to say crazy, outrageous things just in case you’re listening.

    You should totally start “overheardyourwedding.com”.

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

    I’m just saying that when it comes to something super personal a person is less likely to want to point out how over the top it is.

    I don’t mean that you are going to run around saying everything you don’t like is dumb but a wedding is something where an idea snowballs and before you know it you’re over commited to an idea, but no one wants to tell you how bad it is for fear of retribution.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15197564769635390369 shaygo

    I think my question is why does it matter?

    You did such a lovely thing with your post on Wedding Liberation Philosophy and now I feel like you sort of went backwards.

    I get what you are saying — that they didn’t seem to be invested in the idea either way. I appreciate the worrisome nature of that.

    But, not everyone is tapped into their creativity or is willing to devote the time and energy necessary to making the wedding day individualized. Which is partly why wedding planners have jobs.

    I guess my question is how do you justify a post like this when you’ve recently posted about everyone liberating themselves by accepting the choices each individual makes?

    (justify is a harsher word than i mean i just can’t think of the more appropriate word at the moment.)

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

    Wow. That’s crazy. I think my reaction would probably be “jaw dropping onto table”.
    Just me, though.

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

    (If I was the couple to whom the wedding planner was proposing idea, my jaw would drop to the table. That’s what I mean. If I overheard it, I think my reaction would have been the same as yours!)

  • Anonymous

    Shaygo – Not to speak for Meg here, but to me the difference is that, while differing wedding philosophies may exist and flourish, no sensible (or ethical) philosophy involves spending lots of money on something you aren’t particularly keen on, just because a planner talked you into it. That strikes me as wasteful, particularly in the current economic climate. Just my opinion, of course!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05955067991628905693 Bookbag

    I just want to write a response to the commenters who think this post is judge-y. The point I got from it is that weddings are weird because they can be both massively expensive and time-consuming but (in this case at least) not necessarily meaningful. This couple just doesn’t seem all that invested in their flowers-in-the-forest aisle, which begs the question of why they are doing it, or agreeing to let their planner do it. And yeah, there are plenty of people out there who don’t get really jazzed at the idea of growing their own aisle, myself included. So they shouldn’t do it, because it doesn’t seem to speak *to them*.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15197564769635390369 shaygo

    Anonymous — I agree. That's not my issue. It is not a decision I would make and as we plan our own wedding we are doing all we can to make ethical & practical choices.

    My issue is why do we care what these other people are doing? If this is how they want to plan their wedding who are we to say that they are wrong or lesser than?

    I guess (and I this isn't just for Meg, it's really for everyone including me) why do we feel the need to judge?

    Why is it so hard for us to say — "ok — you wanna obsess over what the knot says you should or shouldn't do or over the exact shade of purple — so be it." because it isn't about me. it has nothing to do with me or my wedding.

    yes — i think excess is bad. yes, i think we should be more aware of the waste or needless nature of the WIC and make our wonderful practical choices accordingly.

    but if a couple chooses not to do that why do we (and i mean universal — not meg in particular) feel a need to judge them for that? why can't it just roll off our backs?

  • Ellie

    As long as they aren’t an invasive species of flowers or somehow detrimental to the forest, that sounds like a pretty nice idea…I probably would have had a much more enthusiastic reaction.
    I’m not sure that I get the purpose of the individual tables.

  • Julia

    I’m not sure how many of you are from America, but I find it kind of offensive that people in other countries think that all Americans are wasteful and blow tons of money. We aren’t all like that.

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

    Well, it’s sort of a hard line to draw, but here is the thing – Wedding Liberation is important, but it wasn’t about me saying that “all weddings are totally cool with me and I love all kinds of weddings,” full stop. I think if you read this site on a regular basis, your pretty aware of the fact that I actually think crazy-over-the-top-blow-out weddings are not a great thing for the world, and are not a great thing for the sanity of brides and grooms. Having a over the top wedding doesn’t say *anything* bad about who you are as a person, or who you are as a couple – but it has become the standard for ‘this is what a normal wedding is,’ and conceptually I don’t like that. This website is, to some small extent, a reaction to that. It always has been. On the other hand, it’s an affirmation of the wonderful sane weddings that are out there. But I’m a bride, and I’m a regular person, and over the top weddings stress me out, and I write about that.

    Wedding Liberation is more about me saying that within the realm of people who read this site – of people who are planning generally practical, sane, down to earth weddings, that you all have good judgment, and should be kind to yourselves. There is a lot of alterna-wedding judgment “I’m more indie than you” and it’s not helpful or cool at all.

    Would I ever post about a particular wedding and say “this wedding, this is over the top and not for me.” No. Never. That would be hurtful. Do I sometimes post bits of dialogue, or cultural observations about over the top weddings? Yes, I do. To not do so, and to strip this website of all sass or commentary, that wouldn’t be me. And frankly, I think lots of you wouldn’t enjoy it. Part of what I do here is sass a bit. It’s my space to sass about weddings, it always has been. And, please know that if you find a piece of my sass offensive, I am sorry. It’s not intended to be. But, the sass is here to stay.

    And this post is less about judgment (hey, that wedding could be kind of cool, who knows) and more about social commentary. And that, kids, is just how I roll.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14434478092385025445 Neko

    I really hit the wall recently, wedding-planning-wise, and exchanges like you posted above really haven’t been helping. I’m struggling to sort out the basic necessities and people are so darn blase about doing such ridiculous things that it makes me feel like I’m doing something very wrong.

    Even Weddingbee, which I’ve turned to as a practical source of wedding ideas, is leaving me depressed. Oh, so you wrote and designed a professional looking 16 page newsletter for your 8 bridesmaids? Gee. Maybe me and my single attendant should just give up now before we make ourselves look bad?

  • http://budgetbeautiful.wordpress.com/ budgetbeautiful

    It’s funny you posted this just as I am going through my own wedding planning issues. I’ve always felt middle of the road. I do like the camaraderie on my local knot.com board. I like wedding magazines. Yet just yesterday I realized that I do not want to spend all this money on one day, and before we get in over our head in planning, I’m looking to move the date up.

    I’m really over the planning, and feeling like because I’m not doing what everyone else is doing my wedding isn’t valid. I’m even starting to see a lot of my fellow brides as brain-washed by the bridal industry. I’m planning on going through my blog reader and adding a bunch of new “practical” blogs and ditching the ones that just make me depressed.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10441798371617926431 kaitlin

    I think, and Meg please correct me if I misunderstood your post entirely (because I have been known to do such things), the thing I took from this is:

    It’s not so much that lavish, over-the-top commercial weddings are dumb-as-hell, but rather that jeebus, if you’re spending over-the-top dollars then please get excited, or angry, or have some sort emotion attached other than “gee, that sounds fine”. I get that weddings can be draining in every way possible (goodness knows that my engagement has gone on far too long because holy moly, I’m tired of planning). But, for someone to come up with an idea that is unique and then for the reaction to be so blasĂŠ seems a little…bizzare if you ask me.

    Then again, I am having a practical, budget-friendly wedding, so I get excited about everything, because if I’m not excited about it, what’s the point?

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

    Kaitlin-
    Amen. And with that, I’m closing the comments on this.

    Meg