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The Details That Mattered


by Meg Keene, Editor-In-Chief

The Details That Mattered | A Practical Wedding

I’ve been thinking a lot about wedding details lately. I’ve been thinking a lot about details because of Verhext, who is obviously eminently sane, told me that she just cares about details because she’s a details person. And honestly, I agree… in a very non-wedding industry way.

Because here is the thing: we worked our asses off to have a wedding that was a honest reflection of our aesthetic. Asses. Off. We poured cement to make our huppah; we found white birch branches for the huppah poles; I had an epic quest for a wedding dress that felt like me, and not like some bride-y bride-y nonsense; and we slaved over our service. But you want the punch line? I specifically told my caterer not to use warming trays because I hate them. Hate-hate-hate them. So if you’re feeling bad about being persnickety about chairs, please remember, I banned warming trays at our wedding. I did it, and I would do it again, sane or not.

I’m hyper visual. I’m have a particular aesthetic (just ask my long suffering web designers). And David? Well, when we started dating he was a theatre director. So, really, if you think I’m particular…. yeah…. But I still rail against wedding details, or really Wedding Details. When you are getting married you end up hearing over and over and over again from the WIC (or the BIC) that, “It’s all about the details.” Or “details are what make your wedding memorable and special.” And not only is that patently untrue (what will make your wedding special is that you got MARRIED, and what will make your wedding memorable is all that shared love), but the details the wedding industry sells you are b*llshit. Piles of perfectly matching plastic flip flops for your guests, crazy expensive calligraphy for escort cards, just-so bridesmaid dresses? I mean, did you care about calligraphy before you got married? If yes, then go for it. If no, then stop STRESSING about it already.

So here is my very best wedding graduate advice:

Focus on making your wedding feel aesthetically honest (because there is a lot of aesthetic bullshit out there, and a lot of people trying to tell you that Classic Wedding Aesthetic is the only way it can be done). Focus on making in *feel* like you and your partner. And once you get to that place, realize that everything else is extra.

Because on your wedding day, you are emotionally in another place. Did it matter to me that the huppah I walked up to was beautiful? Hell yes. We were, as the Jewish teaching goes, beautifying the commandment. But did it matter to me that my bouquet didn’t turn out perfictly? No. Did I even notice the mimosa bar that we so carefuly planned? No. I didn’t know it exsisted until I saw one half developed polaroid of it. Did my geusts notice the mimosa bar or the imperfect bouquets? I seriously doubt it (and we know a lot of artists). They, and we, noticed how the day felt, and the asthetics were only important in the way they played into that whole.

So remember the big picture. And focus on the small things with love.

The details that really mattered to me? They are all things that feel too personal to share very much of, but here you are:

  • Our invitations, which were made with such love, and had the verse of Torah that is written on my heart.
  • The dress. The dress that I found after a year long quest.
  • The huppah. The huppah. The huppah.

And the rest? Well. It was just details.

So here is my question to all of you wedding graduates. We talk a lot about how the details don’t matter. And most of them don’t, at least not in comparison with the hugeness of the vows. But if you had to pick the few small things that did matter to you, what were they, and why?

PS This post on details is also helpful

Picture: Our elusive mimosa bar. And yes, those flowers are in a brushed steel square trough, and the garden roses are filled in with pink star jasmine. And there are three juices in carafes. Don’t think that happened by mistake. But also? Don’t think I even saw it the day of (or stressed about it before hand, come to think of it).

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://i-doux.blogspot.com Hannah

    I have found that the details of the wedding (making silly cake toppers and sewing a bajillion napkins and a veil and the gold shoes I’ve been looking for forever) are the parts of the wedding I love the most. I’m a detaily, manically crafty person though, so I feel that if I want the wedding to be really really mine then I should go ahead and worry about them, or at least make them happen. I make my sisters crazy tulle flower flips on regular wednesdays and make pushpins and decoupage like a lunatic in regular life so it would be out of place and weird for me not to make anything for my wedding. I guess the bottom line is that if you are crafty in normal life, than craft your wedding. All these little details are the part that makes me happy and dappy, not stressed.

    • http://www.missgiggles.com/blog Giggles

      That’s what I think too. It was the things we made because they mattered to us that were important to me. I liked the other details, but it was the flowers and dresses and invitations that we put together that meant the most.

      And of course the minor detail of being married at the end of it all. I think that was the detail that mattered the most in the end.

  • http://anhonorableestate.blogspot.com A-L

    I’m still a wedding undergrad, so I can’t post about what details really mattered to me. But this is one of the areas where I feel that playing, “Which one is not like the other” and I’m out here standing in left field, while everyone else is in the in-field (bad analogy, I know).

    Tons of people keep talking about details, like flip-flops, their OOT baskets, the favors, numerous types of decorations, etc., and for so much of it, I don’t even plan to have it and just ask myself why do people want to do so much work for things that must people aren’t going to notice? Of course, I’m not a crafty person and perhaps if I was then I would understand. But when Meg is talking about her dress as a detail (which I sort of consider a main component) then maybe I am into details, just not the ones that everybody else is into.

    But looking forward to hearing from the grads about their experiences!

  • http://irisira.wordpress.com irisira

    The bagpiper.

    I’m cutting corners EVERYWHERE. I’m doing my own makeup, still undecided about my hair (I’m contemplating going into a Supercuts and saying I have a “thing” that night, because the pricetag on bridal updos make me want to retch), not doing flowers, etc.

    But I am paying $300 for a bagpiper who will play for less than half an hour. Because more than anything, I want a bagpiper at my ceremony.

    • http://tinyglimpses.blogspot.com Meg

      LOVE bagpipers! That is an awesome expenditure, in my humble opinion.

      • http://blondeeebuckeye.blogspot.com/ Laura

        we are having a bagpiper too! my fiance is scottish, so his mom really wants one. i’m up for it–makes the wedding unique :)

  • SJS

    This is EXACTLY how I have been feeling about details. The flip side to the WIC “try as hard you as you can to get the details right” thing is the “details don’t matter so don’t stress about them” thing. Why can’t we be inbetween?

    Because I DO care about some of the details. Are they going to create more work for me? Yes. Lots. Am I stressing about flowers and whether it’s feasible to do them myself? Yes. Do I mind? No.

    Because when I walk into the room I want to know that it’s been transformed it into a place that’s right for us, and when I send the invites I want to know that it’s my work and glue-gun burned fingers, and that I’ve done it because I wanted to, not because I felt I had to.

  • Laura

    I’m so glad you posted this. Lately it seems like all anyone tells me is “oh, no one cares about (insert detail here)”. It’s a drag, because I actually do care about things like flowers, and little crafty details, and so forth. I’m still an undergrad, but one super tiny detail I am weirdly excited about is the little drink flags I’ve been making to go in the iced tea that will be served to our guests before the ceremony. They’re really cute and make me smile. I probably won’t even notice them on our wedding day. Really, it’s all about the process. The act of making them is so nicely repetitive and simple. It’s my new favorite stress reliever, coming home and dumbly gluing flags together after a long day. I am dragging out finishing them for as long as possible.

  • http://buhdoop.blogspot.com buhdoop

    Still and undergraduate but I completely agree with what Kathryn of Snippet and Ink said. Details are wonderful because they show thought and you love to give that little gift to them. But if you hate it, then the gift is not doing it (paraphrasing). Great words for a woman in the last stretch of wedding planning

  • http://www.onecatperperson.blogspot.com Angie

    115 days away, folks! The details we choose to care about: our outfits, our shoes, the pictures, the yard games (cornhole is a must!!!), creating beautiful outdoor light, the whoopie pies, the barbecue pit, and the weather. The other stuff is fluff. We are detail-oriented people- he’s a designer and I’m a organizational freakazoid, so we had to (and still have to) make a conscious effort to choose what to freak out about and what to let go. Napkins, let go. Paper plates, let go. Table linens, let go. Strings and strings of LED lights, let go. Moving thirty huge ass picnic tables, let go. Those things just aren’t going to happen for us. And we’re okay with that because the things that do matter are going to be awesome because we want it to be and we’re going to do it together.

  • Heather

    I’m getting married in just over a month now, and although I’m sure I will feel differently as a wedding graduate, I have to say that having a healthy perspective on the details has kept me sane! I LOVE designing things, so I spent hours working on our invitations and I’m designing custom buttons to put on the tables at the reception. Those things make me happy now and I know seeing them at the wedding will make me happy too. What I’m not doing? Worrying about the flower arrangements – I think flowers look pretty and I really can’t tell the difference. So I hired a florist who I trust and I haven’t worried about it since. And things like custom napkins, cake topper or specially monogrammed cake cutting set? No thanks, those are so not me! It’s all a matter of remembering what is YOU and making what you love important and not worrying or letting those around you make you think you need to do certain things. My fiance and I are in love and so excited to get married. Not having monogrammed napkins or a cake topper does not mean our wedding is doomed just because someone thinks that’s what’s important.

    I love this site and I’m so glad I found it. You have kept me sane and with any luck I’m going to make it through the next 5 weeks and have the most amazing wedding experience and I hope the same for all the other wedding undergrads!

  • Erin

    Details:
    My dress, handmade by my aunt from a sketch I drew, of silk and lace hunted down in Fabric Row in South Philly. There’s a scene in my mind of my mom and I in the parking lot at Wal-Mart, ready to go find the one thing I forgot to buy until I make up my mind and say, “No. I will not have Wal-Mart in my wedding dress.” There are significant people and places stitched into that dress, and they were with me the whole day.

    The band, which, at first, was my husband’s big “pretty-please”. In the end, they really mattered to me too. Our guests were thrilled, and I danced. And danced. And danced. And sang. With everyone.

    The flowers, which I requested by name color and shade from our florist. Poppies, ranunculus, tulips, yellow iris. I’m a plant girl, and every time I looked at them on the tables, in my sister/MOH’s hands, I resolved that they’d all end up in my garden someday.

    There are a lot of others, now that I think about it… Like Meg mentioned, these were all things Joe and I cared about in our daily lives, which is why these were the fussed-over details that we really noticed and remember now that the wedding celebration has passed.

  • Christi

    For me, being in bride mode, only 9 months ago, was a strange and peculiar time. I am sitting here racking my brain for the details, that in retrospect, were of utmost importance – and I am drawing a blank. What does that say about all that time, effort and fretting? I guess I don’t remember the importance of the aesthetic of our decorations / details as much as I cherish the memories of how they came to be. The little vases made from tiny French beer bottles are cute – but the memories from “the collection” days – the much necessitated excuses for BBQs, dinners, and beers in the park with friends over the summer leading up to the wedding, and the anticipation that built as we collected “the little bottles of beer on the wall”, are unforgettable. Or the fabric banners I had planned to sew alone on a Saturday a few weeks before the wedding, but was joined by friends one-by-one who at decided to drop by (independently, yet all in the same day?) to see if I needed help with anything. We ended up with a mini wedding assembly line… some sewing, ironing and folding and others milling about working on corsages, Photoshop experiments, running errands or making food for everyone… so when I look back on the pictures of our ceremony, I see the fabric banners made from pretty seaside fabric I painstakingly chose, but I feel that magical sewing huddle day which is what makes them precious…

  • Suzanne

    Seven months later, and the one that stands out is the escort cards. I didn’t make much for our wedding myself, but I had a vision of those escort cards early on, and even though people kept asking me skeptically, “You’re going to make them yourself? Then hang them from a branch in the yard [we got married at my husband's parents' house]? You’re going to do this yourself on the morning of the wedding?”, I kept saying yes.

    And then, the morning of the wedding arrived, and my tiny niece-to-be and I wandered into the backyard and found a tree. One of my favorite memories of the day is the time we spent out there in the quiet, sunny yard, my niece giggling as I lifted her up to help me tie the ribbons attached to the cards.

    Still, those escort cards pale in comparison to the ceremony. They were a lovely detail, but just a detail.

  • MinnaBrynn

    1) Sitting here, 51 days before the wedding, I know what has been important to us so far: our ceremony wording, having real plates (instead of disposable ones), and including out friends in meaningful ways. Are there other things I’d like to care about? Yeah. And I won’t be surprised if in the next 50 days I find something that just MATTERS so much it’s worth the effort to make it happen. I also suspect that on the day of the wedding, I won’t care as much about plates, and I probably won’t notice if the uncle who kindly stepped in when our pastor stepped out reads the ceremony exactly how we wrote it.

    2) On a totally different note (sorry, I don’t know where else to ask about this), I sometimes comment from a computer lab with a shared computer and I’ve noticed that the website now always opens up with my name and email address in the appropriate post a comment boxes. I don’t really want my information showing up for anyone who sees this in Safari’s opening tab and gets curious. Do I just need to clear browser memory/history every time I comment, or is this something the APW site is doing? Any advice for the chronically computer undereducated?

    • http://buhdoop.blogspot.com buhdoop

      You may need to clear the cookies in the tools menu.

  • Megan

    Wedding graduate here – woo hoo! One of my favorite details is that we walked down the aisle to our guests humming the wedding march on kazoos. I loved walking in with my almost-husband, looking at all our friends and family, listening to their awesome music and just totally cracking up.

  • meg

    It’s very interesting seeing the different ways that wedding undergrads are talking about details and wedding grads are talking about details. Post wedding everyone seems to be like, hum, what DID I care about? Oh! My dress! The ceremony! Which is, I think, a good illustration of the point… think big picture…. and if it’s not fun for you, don’t WORRY about it already.

    • C

      In that same vein, if that small detail you really want is something you’d rather purchase than make; that’s okay too. You don’t have to do everything yourself!

  • http://withlovefromdc.blogspot.com AM

    I completely agree with SJS.

    I think the problem lies in the fact there seems to be a very thin line between “I like calligraphy and I like sparkle” and “Every. Single. Piece. of wedding paper MUST be calligraphied in sparkle or I’ll die.” in discussions of details. In other forums, there seems to be no middle ground where you cant just like the details because you’re a details person.

    If you’ve ever seen the DIY decision tree on 100LC, it could be easily applied here: Do it if you love it, you can, and if it matters to you.

  • Ashley

    Still an undergrad, one month out! What matters to us about our wedding is that our guests feel connected to it and to us in some way, and that idea is reflected in some of the details. Although I am not particularly crafty, I hand made each of our invitations (no gocco here- just plain old computer, cardstock, stamp, and ink!) so that we could include a place on the RSVP for guests to submit their favorite dance songs for us to play during the reception on our ipod playlist. We’ll be writing much of our ceremony and including a ring-warming. Our guest list is small and the reception will feature a family-style dinner. No sweetheart table. We are doing away with some of the more traditional wedding “events” like the bouquet toss, cake-cutting, first dance, so that we have more time just to be with our guests (and they with each other.)

    I’ve been to all kinds of weddings of close friends and family over the past year, and at most of them I had a feeling of disconnect from the couple and the magnitude of the event, or a feeling of being rushed from one photo-op to the next. I don’t want that for us, and I hope that the love we are putting into the details will carry over into the experience of the day.

  • http://amidlifeofprivilege.blogspot.com LPC

    I thinking shifting the conversation from the details to the aesthetic is a good thing. There does appear to be another component, however, in that sometimes people just like to look around and think about all the work that was done by themselves or people they know.

  • Erika

    The only two details that stand out are: the bouquet, made by my husband and wrapped with my grandmother’s handkerchief; and the ceremony programs, which were simple and lovely and made by my husband and me together. That’s it! I think as a wedding undergrad it’s very hard to know which details will matter and which ones will not, because, you know, you just don’t know what your wedding day will feel like. That in itself can be very stressful. I almost see this post as related to your posts on transcendence: that something at the wedding will be magical and transcendent, but it might not be what you thought it would be. I never imagined that my bouquet would be a detail that mattered, but somehow it transcended being a bunch of flowers and became this Detail with Big Emotional Significance.

    • meg

      Exactly. That’s how I feel about our invites.

      I think part of what I’m trying to say is ‘some of the details will matter, but not in the way you’re told that they will.’ They will matter on this very emotional plane, or the ‘how they played into the whole’ plane, not necessarily on the ‘oh how cute!’ plane.

      But I think it’s rare that on your wedding day you think “DAMN! I should have made those embossed swizzle sticks!” Which gives you full permission to chuck what is not making you happy.

  • kerstin

    this is a great post, meg. i’m generally not a very detail-oriented person … and although i do have an artistic spirit, it’s not particulalry *crafty*. the details that mattered to me were: my dress, that my mom lovingly sewed; having our dear friend officiate the ceremony & my very talented uncle provide the music; and the flowers — wildflowers that arrived in buckets, and were arranged in absolutely stunning arrangements by my aunt. The theme? the details that mattered to me were manifestations of just what you talk about regularly here on APW — the LOVE that surrounds you on your wedding day from all sides. It’s magical.

  • Karen

    I too obsessed over the details, because I’m a “detail” person as well. And I did it for myself, even if no one else noticed, because it mattered that our wedding reflected US. And because, being a New Yorker, I don’t have the chance to do crafty things or throw parties very often.
    The funny thing? EVERYONE noticed the details…and gushed about how the small details made it a perfect reflection of who we were.
    And, like Meg, we didn’t do these things because the blogs or magazines suggested they were what was cool or supposed to be done, but because we have a certain style that we felt strongly about representing.

    My favorite details?
    -the bracelets I brought back from Senegal for my bridesmaids and the eggplant pashmina scarves (that tied them all together, since they wore whatever brown dress they wanted)
    – the bouquets made from fresh sage leaves from the farmer’s market
    -the spicy gingerale that we shipped in from South Carolina to make our favorite cocktail (from when we lived in the south)
    -matching the food choices to the ones on a menu at our favorite, now-defunct, soul-food diner
    -designing and illustrating our invitations, which we then screen-printed
    -the cake toppers that my dad carved out of wood and that my husband and i painted to look like us
    -the pots of herbs my mother had grown for the centerpieces
    -the massive amounts of cookies myself and friends made for dessert
    -and most importantly, the service that we wrote, the beautiful readings that we chose, the very personal vows we shared

  • http://apracticalwedding.com/2010/02/wedding-graduate-cara-indie-brooklyn/ Cara

    Now that we’re on the other side, the details that remain important to us are the ones that facilitated memory-making like the photo corner (http://apracticalwedding.com/2009/12/for-friday-grins-not-grains-smart-sses/) – obviously – and the post cards we used a guest book. And also the ones that came from a place of meaning like the hairpin I made from my grandma’s and my mom’s veils and the vest my mother-in-law made to match my husband’s suit. The details that were purely aesthetic aren’t quite as important to us anymore.

    • Marina

      “facilitated memory-making” — EXACTLY.

  • TNM

    Yes, as a wedding grad, I do have to sorta jog my memory to recall my favorite details…

    In the end, there weren’t really particular “things” that stood out, but the general aesthetic and “feel” did make me glad. I do remember walking into our reception site and thinking WOW, it is so beautiful and festive in here, love the bright colors/lanterns/flowers/people/etc. So on the one hand, the individual details were just rendered into a happy blur, on the other hand, all the details are what eventually added up to the aesthetic “feel,” which indeed did make a (bit of a) difference.

    So I guess I would say, do the details you want to do, but as you’ll never notice “that one thing” on the actual day, scrap *anything* that is stressing you out. Really. I ran out of time on the programs which I never was really into anyway, and my one lasting “superficial regret” is that I can’t get the 6+ hours I wasted on those miserable paper nightmares in the last week.

    Oh, and now I am remembering a detail: the collection of vintage signs that my husband slowly gathered off ebay. When he was doing it, I remember thinking (to myself), hmmmm, these things might be tres weird-looking… Martha wouldn’t approve. But of course, because they were so “him,” they were what stood out most to me (in a good way). Go figure!

  • Christen

    It’s funny, though I’m an undergrad, I’ve evolved very much in the way I’m viewing our party. Like that, it’s not so much our wedding, but our party. We’re halfway through a two-year engagement, and when we started out I was like WIC this and BIC that, and now I’m like, just get me to the effing beach and let me spend time with my friends and family.

    Despite the fact we’re doing a destination wedding, which we’re doing because it’s a halfway point for our families, who live across the world from each other, we’re cutting a TON of corners. And this had made me zero in on what, precisely, is important and what is just … meh.

    One thing, and perhaps the biggest, is my bouquet. I wanted to have one thing that was a collaborative effort, something that I could keep and cherish … and flowers just wouldn’t cut it. I’m doing a brooch bouquet and have collected pieces old, new, cheesy, sentimental. From friends, coworkers, families, thrift stores, boutiques, handmade. I have an old old old friend who I haven’t seen in ten years on the hunt and she’s tickled pink to be able to help. My future mother in law is putting all the pieces together for me. I have a locket that will have pics of my grandparents on their wedding day. This is the biggest non-fiance aspect for me.

    And balloons. I want balloons. Especially after getting chastised and ridiculed on *Big Evil Wedding Website boards* for even contemplating the idea. I want Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face type balloons.

    That’s really it. I want to be with my love, my loved ones. I want the sand between my toes. I want to kiss in the sunset. But all of these things will be just as they are.

  • Autumn

    OK, so a lot has been said about how silly chair covers are, but honestly, they were a detail that really mattered to my now-husband, and he was right. They transformed the pretty drab conference room where we had our reception into an elegant, beautiful space that reflected the mood we wanted. And I don’t know that you can call it a “detail,” but our ceremony script, that was read by a judge I worked for who loves us, and included songs by dear friends, a reading by my now sister-in-law, and a ring warming by our wedding party, was really special. I was glad we spent so much time and effort working on it. Many people came up to me afterwards and told us how much they loved it, how personal it was. The signs and other crap I made were pretty, but they didn’t matter, except that they gave me something to keep busy with so I didn’t go nuts the weeks before the wedding.

  • http://www.secondchancehappiness.blogspot.com Brandy

    I happen to LOVE the details. That isn’t to say that they all ended up mattering or that they all ended up noticed. My husband and I poured love, time, and a lot of thought into the little details of our day. We made most of them. Making them was far more fun and memorable than actually seeing them the day of. Though, three details really stood out to me on the day. One, the hand-made jewelry that I made for myself, my maids, our moms, my grama, and even for the bridesmaids’ bouquets. I made sure no two were alike. Two, the figures that my groom made to top his cake that represented his groomsmen; each carefully chosen and painted by my groom. And three, the wine bottles. I designed fake front and back labels using engagement photos, quotes from Marcus Aurelius and Plato, a description of us as a couple for the “wine description” and a fake warning label. I was afraid they’d be a bit cheesy, but they actually looked fantastic. Everyone loved them. And at the end of the night, all but the two I stashed for myself were snapped up and taken home with by our friends and family. It was quite touching that others found them so “us” that they wanted to take it with them.

    I believe that working on all those little details brought us together. I also think it showed our loved ones how much we appreciated them and how seriously we took both the planning and the commitment being made. Plus, it was killer fun (time-consuming, but a blast). I seriously doubt either of us would have wasted time on anything that wasn’t fun and meaningful, and several projects that fell into those categories were ultimately scrapped.

  • http://somewhatbookish.wordpress.com Carrie

    I am a wedding undergrad for another 10 days, but I am interested to see what looking back will be the most important details for me. On this side of the wedding, the details I care most about have been our invitations (which I loved so much, and which still make me happy to think about) and our beer/wine selections (My fiancee is from Maine and I am from Virginia, so we selected Maine beer and Virginia wines to make things a little more personal). I’m really looking forward to seeing our wedding from the “married” perspective though.

    • ddayporter

      ahhhh that’s awesome!! my husband is from Virginia, I’m from Maine! we had the wedding in Virginia so we were planning to do ALL the wine and beer from Virginia, but in the end we went with a mix of Virginia and New England beers, and then the wine was from South Africa (because of my study abroad there), California (because it was organic and they were doing a tasting that day at Total Wine and it was delicious), and France (because the staff person helping us basically fell over himself recommending it, it was in our price range and – turned out to be excellent). so we basically epic failed at Virginia-only, but there are definitely plenty of great wineries in Virginia – if the wedding is in VA just don’t expect to VA wines from Total Wine! They really don’t have much of a selection unfortunately. but you probably have all this figured out already. :)

  • ddayporter

    hmm, the details that mattered. I want to say “everything about the ceremony” but that seems beside the point. so beyond that:

    #1 – the guest book box. my sister bought me a recipe box for my shower, and my mom painted “Mrs. Porter’s Recipes” on it (at first I was like Ack! the Mrs.! but everyyyyyone calls me that now, I don’t mind it anymore), and then at the wedding we put ruled notecards at each place setting and asked guests to write us a note or draw us a picture (we made button flower pens and I wrapped up little bundles of crayons for each table). Looking through all the silly and sometimes very serious drawings and messages after the wedding was so much fun – if we ever get around to it they’re going into a photo album (the box is back to being for recipes). I really wasn’t sure if people would do it, but we ended up getting notes from almost everyone.

    #2 – the centerpiece flowers. I had originally planned to get all our flowers from a local grower and was worn down over the course of the engagement by people telling me it was too much work and they’re unreliable and blah blah blah… My mom was arranging our personal flowers and it would be easiest to just order those wholesale so we did that, and I was fine with it, and we decided we would not do flower centerpieces because it was too difficult to coordinate. and then somewhere around 2 or 3 months out I was like No. I want those wild picked-from-the-backyard looking flowers on our tables darn it. and we got our farmers market flowers for the centerpieces. Not sure that any of the guests cared one way or the other but I was ridiculously happy when I saw the tables all set up.

    #3 – umm, honestly, the shoes. They have unicorns on the soles for crying out loud! (can’t find them online anymore but they were by Irregular Choice, highly recommend them).

  • http://www.landlockedbride.com Brit

    Details, just like in the design world, are objective. To each person, each element means something different. What is important to me is not important to you. Some of us are detail-oriented, and some of us aren’t. So, if 50 of the pieces of my wedding are important to me, then they are. And, if only 4 or 5 things are important to you and the rest is what it is, then, that’s how it is.

    That’s the beauty of a wedding. You make of it what you want to. I think we all need to get out of this judging everyone for what the details are. What is important is that you are celebrating your love in a way that is unique to you and your SO. If that means lots of flowers or having an outdoor ceremony, or spending more money on photography than anything else, so be it. I am not going to judge you for what was important to you.

    At the end of the day, us brides need to make the wedding important to us (you and your SO) and stop worrying about everyone else.

  • Kelly

    Great post! I got married only 11 days ago and I am thinking, “hmmm…what details really mattered?” And I’m a detail person! Did any of the details really matter? Nope. But the combination of a few contributed to the overall aesthetic. The market/string lights I wanted to be “just right” made the nicest atmosphere and guests liked the story cards we displayed about the different types of food and what they represented about us. My husband loved the clear stickers I applied to all 400 plastic cups, and loved them even more when he realized I did them myself. Did anyone else notice? Maybe not. But we did!

  • Jessie Decker

    Meg, I love that verse. It was read at my Grandfather’s funeral last year & gave him so much peace. Great post, as always.

  • Cupcake

    I am a wedding undergrad and just starting to decide which “details” matter. There are some that I just don’t care about (letterpressing? no thanks) but there are some that I am passionate about. Our food has to include as much local ingredients as possible, and the meat has to either be local or certified humane. And I don’t mind saving, cleaning and shining soup cans to use as vases for the centerpieces (we have small tables that only fit small centerpieces, FH wants silver to be one of our colors, and we have a tiny decorations budget). It’s so great to be reminded that it is ok to care about what you care about, and to not give a damn about what you don’t!

  • april

    Hallelujah and saints be praised for this post. The details drove me to the brink almost, and seeing not-so-helpful advice on other wedding blogs (Style Me Pretty comes to mind) that preaches “Details! Details! Details!” was unnerving and downright disappointing.

    The details that mattered to my husband and the details that mattered to me were very different, but we were jointly set upon a wedding that looked like a party we’d throw ourselves (in fancy clothing, natch). \

    The details we sweated and on the wedding day, made us AND our guests so happy to see

    1) postcard table names made from picture’s we’ve taken all over the world during our travels;

    2) escort cards with a vintage map background with guest’s name and their table “destination”;

    3) our card holder which was a vintage, beat-up suitcase I bought from eBAY for $10, and covered in vintage reproduction travel stickers

    4) our cocktail hour appetizers were a mix of mediterranean tapas (nice nod to the time we spent in Spain). one of our guests said to us after the wedding how much she loved having “interesting & yummy food” to try! yay!

    And the one detail I flat out refused to let go and only mattered to me? Chivari chairs. Heaven help me I teared up when I saw them perfectly placed in our reception room. Yep – I loved the chairs. There. I said it.

  • http://www.onebarefootbride.blogspot.com Walking Barefoot

    Six months after the wedding, it’s hard for me to remember much about it beyond the general blur of joy. The details that stand out were actually things that other people made for the wedding: beach flags that my mom made to mark the ceremony area (in my mind, a little bit like a secular chuppah), and the origami peace cranes that a nephew made – and taught others to make. Their contributions added so much, aesthetically and morally.

  • http://www.bathtubbrewery.com Mel

    As a graduate, looking back I can think of 2 things where the details mattered: our ceremony and the flowers I sculpted for my bouquet and the bouts.

    I labored over each paragraph of the ceremony, editing and tweaking and transitioning, and it was time well spent. Luckily, there’s this magical thing called the Internet which made my life easier ;)

    And the flowers…typically I don’t think they would have been as important, but because the only floral elements were the bouquets/bouts/corsages, I made them with my own two hands. And this made them IMMENSELY important. They were my own pieces of art, something that got noticed, and something that I hope to eventually open a little Etsy shop with (maybe not wedding bouquets per se, but who doesn’t love life-like arrangements that don’t wither?!)

  • http://cuvikingadventures.blogspot.com/ Adventures Along the Way

    Aside from planning the ceremony, vows, etc, I would say my favorite details, thinking about it now six months after the wedding, were:

    1. The invitations. We designed and made them with family and friends. Each one was bilingual because it was important to us to have both languages on each invite since we are a bilingual/bi-cultural couple.
    2. Along those lines, we did surtitles (projected “subtitles”) for the entire bilingual ceremony, so that all parts could be understood by all guests. (Some parts were in French, some in English.) My husband translated the entire ceremony and worked so hard on it, and I am so thankful because we wanted all our guests to understand and be included in each part. And my sweet husband made it aesthetically gorgeous, even including our wedding motif.
    3. My jewelry. I found stuff that was vintage and not “wedding-y” and I wear it regularly now. When I wear it it reminds me of that feeling I had on our wedding day of being surrounded by deep love.

    But like others say, it’s really more about that overall surrounded-by-people-who-love-you feeling when I think back. Not the out-of-town (well, out-of-country) guides I made for guests to help with restaurant suggestions, sightseeing tips, driving instructions, and other useful info. Though the process was lots of fun for me, and a stress reliever during those two weeks leading up to the wedding; I loved designing and planning that! But that is not what I think about now…I just remember the joy of greeting my out-of-country family and friends when they arrived (and then giving them their little bag with the guide and little bags of candy and pretzels). I guess all my favorite details are somehow related to experiencing community…or in the case of the jewelry, remembering the sense of community. :)

    • http://marie-evelaforte.blogspot.com Marie-Eve

      Since I attended your wedding I can testify that these surtitles were amazing. My husband and I talked about it afterward, and we were very impressed. You pulled off a very interesting and cohesive visual scheme. No surprise since you’re both theater people! :-)

  • Tristen Chang

    We had a few important details… the ceremony, first and foremost. We spent a year (literally, a year) writing it (reading about traditions, writing our vows, selecting readings, editing with our officiant) and it was the most meaningful part of the day for me. I think we can both still recite the entire thing by heart. My sixteen year old cousin also played the ceremony music and it brought tears to my eyes just hearing her, before we even walked out.

    Also, the cake. My mom and aunts made it, and it was SO delicious, not that plastic-y wedding cake fondant stuff, these were layers of the cakes I’d eaten my entire life, and it made my heart hurt seeing my mom and aunts fussing in the kitchen, layering on frosting and flowers. Of course, they did grab me by the arm mid-dance and say “Time to cut the cake before it falls over” but we just called it a tribute to the Leaning Tower of Pisa (we went to Italy for the honeymoon) and at the cake and it was delicious.

    This is a small thing, so I’m not sure it counts as a “detail,” but I’m an English major, and I wrote the story of how we met and dated and got engaged and put it on display at the ceremony. It was so simple, but people liked it a lot, and teased us about all the dorky things we did, like accidentally breaking into a winery.

    My shoes were also pretty awesome. I was on a strict budget for my dress, but I let myself go crazy with my shoes, and I wear the heck out of them now. I still think of them as my “wedding shoes” and remember how it felt to walk down that aisle, my parents at my elbows.

    The details that did NOT matter?
    The programs. They take the cake here. We stayed up till 4 am putting them together and nine people took them. NINE.
    The tissue pom-pom ball things. Three days before the wedding I was sure we wouldn’t have enough decorations, and stayed up all night with my cousins and sister in law making giant tissue paper pom poms, which hung around, sure, but we forgot half of them anyway. It was fun staying up with them though.
    Actually, decorations, period. We didn’t have many to begin with, but I know we had some, and I can’t remember them now. Which I take to mean they weren’t that important to begin with, since I can literally recite our entire ceremony start to finish (and I haven’t looked at our ceremony for months).

  • http://www.sarasheehy.com Sara

    Meg, how is it possible that you can write such great posts everyday? I am in awe. You truly have one creative brain in there.

    I am not a wedding graduate (yet – but by morning on August 22nd I will be!), but in planning I have found it easy to throw out details that don’t represent who we are as a couple. For us, it has been things like “Oh, Sara, are you going to have a program?” No. “But you have to.” No I don’t. “Huh.”

    It’s easier because I live 2200 miles away from my wedding location. It has become just about the details that are most important. Our venue is naturally beautiful and doesn’t need a lot of decoration, we aren’t having a sit down dinner so the tables don’t need full place settings, etc. Where I am focusing the most effort on details is personal accessories, photography, and the presentation of food.

  • Nini

    Posts about details always interest me because, to be honest, I’m not exactly sure what a “detail” is when it comes to weddings. I often see shoes or chairs mentioned and I think to myself, but don’t guests need a place to sit and don’t you need shoes to wear? Well, you don’t NEED them, but a majority of us throwing weddings certainly use them. A chair is a chair.. whether it be a $1 folding chair or an $8 chivari chair – how is choosing either or a detail – are they not just part of your wedding and is your wedding not a part of you? How does one define details when human beings are so varied? I suppose if I had to step out of my own shoes and into others, having a popcorn machine at a reception would be considered a detail – but it was the first thing (and I do mean first) we rented.. we couldn’t imagine not having popcorn on our wedding day. If you ever saw us eat popcorn… well, let’s just say we eat it like the last kernel is filled with the knowledge of the universe. So what is considered a detail, no matter how minuscule or even silly, to some is considered a part of our lives to us. How can we say, “don’t sweat the details” or “the details are everything” when really, we don’t even know what the details are?

  • Audrey

    Ah details. We are trying to use little details to make the wedding more “us” (I had a really fun few days on Etsy getting some great little things about a month ago). But the detail I’ve gotten the most flack about is my shoes! I decided that I love brides with colored shoes and got dyeable shoes that will be dyed to (roughly) match the color of my bridesmaids.

    (It was supposed to be exactly but I was lazy so in retrospect… maybe I should have just bought purple shoes.)

    But the amazing thing is with everything else people tell me to worry about, they kept telling me not to bother with the shoes because “no one will see them”. But *I* know about them and *I* am excited about purple shoes!

    Can’t win for losing….

  • http://www.mysanfranciscobudgetwedding.wordpress.com Sarah

    Your timing is impeccable because the “details” have been on my mind. We recently spent a weekend with friends who celebrated their wedding in October. Our friend (coincidentally also named Sarah) and I agreed that it is the details that simultaneously provide the entertainment during the planning and frustrate the heck out of us. While guests may not notice every detail that went into the planning (the particular fonts over which I am currently agonizing for our paper products, for example, will be noticed by us and Sarah, who is helping us design our paper stuff and no one else will bat an eye). Yet, lack of attention to detail seems to be noticed by everyone.
    Will anyone know or care how long I scoured through Japantown and Chinatown looking for the perfect flowering teas and glass teapots for the table centerpieces? Nope. Would they notice if the tables were left bare? You betcha. And this is the crux of the problem. Yes, it is the big picture that is important. The marriage. Celebrated among loved ones. But it is the little things, the details, that help fill in the big picture and make it whole.

    Will I remember every detail? Of course not. Will my guests notice every detail? Of course not. Will I remember that I spent a year making, crafting, searching, and planning the details so that the whole picture of the day was full and beautiful? Most definitely.

    • meg

      Honestly… I think only the judgy people would notice if the table was left bare. Guests are very, achem, self involved. For example: we had a cocktail hour on the patio before hand (see mimosa bar above). Well, it was hot, so everyone over 40 went inside right away. We, however, stayed outside to mingle with friends and drink (that’s why we had a cocktail hour). We then start getting frantic messages that people are ANNOYED because they can’t eat RIGHT NOW. I remember waving my hand and saying, “You know what? They can wait till lunchtime. They’ll live.” And they did.

      But it’s such a clear example of how many guests (your non-contemporaries in particular) care about what specifically impacts them, and often ignore the rest.

      • Arachna

        Eeek. I thought there was a rule that no one was allowed to say stuff like that to the bride on the day of.

        • Ky

          Ha! No. I had a family member tell me her son was disappointed he had a kid’s meal instead of a grown up one but it worked out ok because there was an extra grown up meal.

          • Tristen Chang

            We had someone complain the toasts were going on too long.

            I mean, they did go for a while, but they were being fed the whole time!

        • meg

          No. The rule is the bride and groom can IGNORE that stuff the day of.

    • Morgan

      Actually, we had to set up extra tables at our wedding. (Okay, our families did while we had our yichud.) And they didn’t even have tablecloths, let alone decoration. No one said a word about the empty tables – they were just happy to have a place to rest their drinks.

  • http://www.verhext.com verhext

    OMG, Meg thinks I’m sane.

    I think we can chalk up the aesthetic and detail issue to the fact that we all started as theatre people, for sure. But — just like in theatre, details matter & we’re hyper aesthetic, but in the end we use some smoke and mirrors, and what matters is that the audience was transported into the story.

    I love that you banned warming trays. Love. I’m trying to think of the few things I’ve shut down already…

    • meg

      What matters is that the audience was transported by the story.

      That’s exactly it.

      • http://bondingcarbonunits.wordpress.com Sarah K

        Oh, see, here is where my anal detail-loving wordsmith self gets the better of me:

        “what matters is that the audience was transported into the story” — not BY the story, INTO the story.

        The audience– or, as it means to me, congregation– is transported into this story of love, radical love. It’s a story of faith, and hope, and love, and community, and they are PART of it. The story doesn’t move them; they become an integrated piece of the story that is being told that day. And that’s what I’m hoping for. :)

        • meg

          In a wedding into, but in theatre, by.

          • http://bondingcarbonunits.wordpress.com/ Sarah K.

            EXACTLY. Through theater we are transported by a story and the smoke & mirrors; I hope to make the feelings of the wedding interactive. I look at the pictures of Team Practical’s weddings (starting with yours, Meg), and I see joy, and tears, and lovelovelove.

    • Margaret

      This isn’t related to this (fantastic) post or your (great) comment, but now I’m getting curious —

      how many of us are theatre people?? It seems like a LOT… and now I’m musing over why that is. Huh.

      [my MFA is in costume design, though i've done everything from stage manage to props theatre positions]

  • Ophelia

    We’re two months out from our wedding, but I don’t anticipate much changing between now and then. If you ask my mother what details we are focusing on, she’d say nothing. Neither of us really care so much about decorative details – we’re having an outdoor wedding, where nature will be our decor. The things that are important to us:
    1. keeping things simple. simple and laidback.
    2. buying the necessary things (tablecloths, napkins, vases, etc.) and the not so necessary but still pretty (vintage chalkboards, galvanized flower buckets) from other brides and thrift stores
    3. local and plentiful food and drink – locally inspired dishes, with local ingredients. local beer. local wine.
    4. having my sister officiate the ceremony.
    5. FINALLY having our friends and family from around the world all in one place at one time.

    I guess our theme would be how my good friend describes her process of getting ready for her first child: “Long live recycling + not buying more than what’s necessary + having only things you absolutely love…keep it simple.”

  • Fitz

    Thanks for this post, Meg.

    My feeling on details ties into my broader discomfort with the wedding industry emphasis on dazzling your guests. I’ve always hated that. Your guests are not coming to your wedding to be entertained, they’re coming because they love you.

    I had eighteen months to obsess over the details, and obsess I did, but I tried really, really hard to keep the focus on love and family rather than wow factors (faced with a daily onslaught on wedding porn, that was a struggle sometimes).

    Because my husband and I are from opposite coasts and many of our guests only knew one of us well, we tried to tell our story and nod to family traditions through our details. The love and thought that we put into them was *felt* if not necessarily noticed or commented on. After the wedding an aunt said that she felt like my grandfather had been there because we had played some of his favorite songs during cocktail hour. That, to me, made all the time (and stress, let’s be honest) worthwhile.

  • Nina

    Whenever I read about “details” I get a little concerned because I don’t think we’re doing much of anything for details. And I get concerned even if I’m reading about how NOT to worry about details because they didn’t matter on the day – because I figure this means you did them and maybe they really did matter and it was only because they were there that you didn’t worry about them…… make any sense?
    But like others have said, details mean different things to different people. I keep thinking of them in terms of the bunting and the cute flags and all the other DYI things that I read so much about. I’m not doing those things. But we do have my grandmother’s crochet table cloth for the table where we sign the marriage certificate, and a guest book filled with old pictures, and little things like that.
    I’m crafty, I could actually make things, but nothing has popped into my head as a brilliant fun thing to make. So I haven’t, but I still ponder if I should…. even though I would kind of be forcing it….

    • meg

      Dude. My details were my dress (clothing is usually considered mandatory), our invitations (you probably did those), and our huppah (totally mandatory). So chillllll…. A guest book filled with old pictures? We didn’t even have a guest book. I decided I couldn’t be bothered. Decorations? We had flowers…. and food. Oh, and a cake. That’s what we decorated with.

      So seriously? Relax.

    • Marina

      Everything except coming out of it married at the end? Those are the details. :)

    • http://eclpse.livejournal.com Kim

      I feel similar to you, Nina, in that I don’t actually think we’re doing many details. Let me be honest here . . . I’m lazy. I’m lazy and he’s last-minute. So if it doesn’t need to be done or if I’m not excited about doing it, then it isn’t going to happen. Simple as.

      We are doing little things – and trying to have fun – with what I feel are the necessary basics (invitations, and I’ve got a couple of little ideas for the table where guests first enter the reception , etc.), but other than that, I just couldn’t be bothered. Is there going to be a ceremony? Is there going to be a bar? Is there going to be food? Is there going to be dancing? Yes? Excellent.

  • FM

    One thing that stands out to me was one my (many) kick-in-the-butt, remember-your-priorities moments related to details. We used a guest book that I HATED (because I didn’t even want a guest book! and it’s so frou-frou and this whole time we’ve been trying to be simple and modern in our aesthetic!). But my father-in-law’s girlfriend gave it to me for my shower with the best of intentions and love, and I am ashamed at how many days I owned that thing before I decided to use it. Such a small thing, and it wasn’t THAT bad (all ivory, at least, so easy to ignore the victorian-esque imprinted lacey floral stuff). I know she was so pleased to have been able to contribute something, and I’m pleased we helped her feel more included.

    Mostly, the big picture were memorable after the wedding – the music that got the dance-floor rockin’, the free-flowing food and alcohol, the feel of the ceremony (pretty traditional, and that was fun for our friends to experience and meaningful for our families). The detail I really cared the most about was the English wording in our ketubah, which I wrote (the Hebrew was just the standard conservative text). I guess that was my big DIY project, writing that. But I never expected anyone at the wedding to really pay attention to those words. That effort was mostly for me and my husband and our future, to remind ourselves and our someday-children what this whole marriage thing is about whenever we look at our ketubah hanging on our wall.

  • Kayla

    Wedding Grad:

    Our ceremony especially the wording of our vows.

    Pie.

    Having our friends/family involved.

  • http://marie-evelaforte.blogspot.com Marie-Eve

    Hi, wedding graduate here.

    What mattered in the end:

    My fab aqua and yellow shoes becoming the color palette.
    My flowers, in which I couldn’t resist tucking in branches of white lilac because it had just burst open in my backyard, and it’s my favorite flower ever and the scent reminds me of my great-grandma.
    Our vows, the fact that our guests also had to take a vow to support our marriage.
    The food we made with love.
    How we didn’t even realize it but on the outside pictures the thousands of dandelions seem to totally be on cue with my yellow sash and flowers.
    Feeling totally, totally, blissed and loved out.

    What didn’t matter:

    The ugly white plastic tables and chairs we had rented, and didn’t even use. In fact, all our rentals including the tent were useless, but we knew it was a weather-related gamble.
    The tissue paper pompoms and little candle holders and coasters I had picked.
    The fact that the sound system venue at the venue broke down and we couldn’t have music during the ceremony.

  • http://kristythecoffeegirl.blogspot.com Kristy

    Details…mostly I remember my shoes. I was kind of in love with my shoes. Still am. They’re purple. (The shoes you see next to my name? That’s them.) And the desserts my mom made – trifles (5!) and a chocolate cake (2 tiers!) – and all the brigadeiros (chocolate fudgy things that every party in Brasil has) that my cousins made (>500!), and the Brasilian lace/Senhor do Bonfim ribbon napkin rings that my mom & aunt made. Oh, and all the flowers that friends arranged – including my bouquet, wrapped in yellow, blue, & green Senhor do Bonfim ribbons.

    Actually, I think mostly (and most importantly) what I remember is all the love (and stress, to be honest) that went into making the day happen. I remember the individual details because I remember what everyone was doing to help us make it happen (and look pretty).

  • APC

    Thank you for this post about the details. I just started planning my wedding two weeks ago, and have already gotten in a fight with my fiance about details. From reading this site, I was able to explain to him that the reason it was important to me was 1) because I really want this event to reflect US and 2) as a planner both by careers gone by and by nature who LOVES a party, I am SO SO excited to actually get to use ALL of my ideas!! Thank you for the great stories and memories- and perspective!

  • Erin

    I’m not a wedding graduate yet (October!) but so far, the details that I’m finding are the most important are the invitations and paper. But I knew I would be obsessed with that… I love the feel and look of aesthetic and just..the sheer symbolism a beautiful invitation gives you. But the second thing, detail wise, is starting to be clear is the jewelry and shoes I wear. I knew I would be wearing pearls–and I have the necklace I’m happy with–but it just isn’t right yet. And I want blue shoes. And I can’t find a pair that makes me happy yet, but I just can’t justify more than $40 or $50 on a pair of shoes, especially heels, since I probably won’t be wearing them all the time–maybe one or two times a year. But, in the end, I know having the right paper for the invites and the right jewelry doesn’t make me more or less a bride, or demean the wedding or derail the marriage. But those details yeah…

    • http://habit-online.blogspot.com/ // Sarah

      i’m so with you… fabulous shoes & gorgeous invites….
      good luck!!

  • http://peacockfeathersdiamondrings.blogspot.com Rachel

    The details that mattered to me afterwards? Well, I like that I have specific items with wedding memories, i.e the vintage crockery that we collected, that we took some of on our honeymoon (we went yurting in Cornwall) and that we use every day now. The flowers that we bought wholesale so we took the leftovers on honeymoon and filled our yurt with peonies. And now, every time I see a white peony I am reminded of our wedding. Our peacock theme, which we carried throughout the day, in colour and in style (shoes, sash, bridesmaids dresses) as well as actual peacock feathers. Almost one year on and every time I see a peacock anything I am reminded of our wedding theme. Also, the hymns and readings, especially when they crop up at church.

    • meg

      Dahlias remind me of our wedding now. It’s wonderful, no? And when friends buy me flowers (like they did for the reading on Friday) they buy them in ‘our wedding flower colors.’ Which they remember, because they helped with….

  • Corinne

    I am a wedding undergraduate (7 long months to go!) and I’m VERY much a detail person, but when it has come to planning our wedding I haven’t really felt it. People don’t believe me when I say that I’m not really enjoying organising the wedding, because they say “but you love doing that sort of stuff”, which I normally do. I think it is because I care about being married not about the wedding day, but don’t get me wrong I’m looking forward to the day and being surrounded by our family and friends. That being said there are two things I care about 1) the ceremony and the wording and involvement of it and 2) our invitations/paper goods. I have a paper and typography obsession and I have made quite a few of my friend’s invitations, so I am excited (and stressed!) about those.

    I sent the wedding chair post to my Mum because she is not happy with the yes I admit less than brillant chairs at the reception venue (I would be happy with those white fold out ones featured), but I don’t really care. She pointed out to me my obsession with the invitations and that people just care about different things. I guess as long as you are happy with your decisions and are not being railroaded then lots of details or few really doesn’t matter and if you end up doing something minor that you really don’t care about because it makes someone you care about happy (I am wearing a veil for my Mum when I didn’t really care either way), then I think that is ok too.

  • Sarah Beth

    I am still an undergraduate. 395 days! *chews nervously on finger nails*
    I know, that’s 13 months. That seems like plenty of time to most people. But when you’ve been watching the clock count down (and reset) for almost three years, this doesn’t seem like a lot. (We’ve been engaged since August of ’07. It’s been a rough road.)

    When we first got engaged, I got sucked in to the WIC, with all it’s glittery, obnoxious, over-priced insanity. I’m a “big picture” person generally, but I also tend to over-analyze and care too much what other people think. I was very laid back at first, and then became very discouraged when I realized I was “supposed” to care about EVERYTHING.

    Then I stopped planning for a while, in order to deal with all the negativity from my parents, who were going through a bitter divorce and were too angry to think straight. Then we went through a long-distance phase, and moved the date back…twice. Then I realized (i.e. finally admitted to myself) that I have champagne tastes & a tap water budget.

    Now that I’m actually seriously planning our wedding, most of the details don’t really matter to me. The two purchases that matter to me most are my dress and the photographer. And writing our own ceremony and vows is very, very important. The rest is just stuff. You are just as married if it’s just the two of you, with no reception, as you are surrounded by everyone you ever met at the biggest, most extravagant party ever.

    I don’t mean that you shouldn’t be gracious to your guests, but I don’t need to “wow” them. Will they get a 5-course meal and a top-notch band? Nope. They will get dessert and refreshments, because my fiance is so anxious to invite everyone he cares about that it’s all we can afford. There will be no letterpress anything, no calligraphy, nothing “custom engraved”, no real china, and no elaborate floral centerpieces. I will have a bouquet because I love flowers & I fidget too much. But if they are purchased at the grocery store that morning for $20, it won’t make a difference to me.

    It will be interesting to see what I remember when all the planning is over, and the day is past.

    • meg

      Funny thing is… I think our guests were most “wowed” by the ceremony. They waxed poetic about it…

  • Dianne

    Hi Meg! I love this post and this conversation. I also love putting a little heart and creativity into every kind of celebration. I’m a 19-month (already!) wedding grad and these are the details that still make me smile:

    1. Our late-in-the-game decision to move the wedding from the beautiful but pricy restaurant on the hill to our own backyard under the tree. We worked all summer to make the yard gorgeous with tubs of flowers, painted benches, votives hanging from the branches, matching fountains, tiki torches and flower lights.

    2. Choosing Herding Cats wine because it is made in South Africa (where my husband has traveled and our church supports an orphanage) and it is sold at our local grocery store that is also a big supporter of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. I especially love remembering the Sunday evening that my sister and I spent in the backyard “trying out” mulitple bottles of the wine and we both got so toasted she had to spemd the night!

    3. Our light-hearted invitations that featured a caricature of us – and having the artist at the wedding to make caricatures of our friends and family for the guest book.

    4. Wearing my favorite color – aqua blue – and walking down the aisle toward our new life together.

    5. The hawaiian dancers who danced a blessing for us and then taught everyone hula and tahitian dances!

    6. The six yummy pumpkin cakes (with cream cheese frosting!) that my mom baked and we displayed on vintage cake plates from my collection.

    7. Saying the words “in sickness and in health” and knowing that we had already lived them!

  • Ky

    I hugely compromised on my venue so I could free up enough of my brain space for focussing on the details I cared about: doing the artwork for my invitations, rsvps and thank yous, making the cake topper, hand writing the place cards and table ‘numbers’ (named after our favorite artists), putting together crayons and place mats for people to draw on for us (in lieu of guestbook) and writing our ceremony.

    My favorite parts of the whole day were the ceremony and the moment I was overwhelmed by how many people I had to talk to and my new husband took my hand and pulled me off to the hotel’s bar and not a single person noticed us slip away. We played hooky at our own wedding and went and had a scotch together. It was my favorite moment of the whole reception.

  • http://anhonorableestate.blogspot.com A-L

    I think Sarah Beth makes a good point. When you don’t have a lot of money to spend (by choice or necessity) then there are a lot of details that are dismissed because of budget, even when they seem fairly inexpensive in and of themselves. Because a $50 project here and a $75 dollar project there (and another here, and another there) starts adding up. And when you’re on a strict budget, it just isn’t very feasible.

  • Mrs P

    My (now) husband and I are both pretty anti-detail people. But a few details were important before our wedding, and even now, looking back.

    For me, it was the ceremony itself, the flowers and the seating plans. Flowers, well, because I love them on all days, not just at weddings, and every time I caught a whiff of my bouquet it made me smile.

    Seating plans were a nightmare – but I was so glad we made the effort when I saw how festive and happy everyone was. I couldn’t hear myself think over the laughter and chatter, and I loved every minute of it.

    Also, the ceremony, which we ended up writing ourselves. Such important words, and the best part of the day.

    So my advice would be to pick a few details that are important to YOU… whether that’s flowers, or fancy stationery, or an amazing menu… and to hell with the rest :)

  • Marina

    I am NOT a detail person, so take this for whatever it’s worth. I got married… oh crap, I totally forgot our 9 month anniversary a few days ago. (That’s how much of a detail person I’m not. Heh.)

    When I try to think about details of our wedding that mattered, I have a hard time thinking of them as DETAILS. The 1000 paper cranes of all different colors that were folded and strung by friends and family near and far, and feature prominently in all the pictures? Those mattered. But they weren’t a detail, they were a manifestation of my aesthetic and community… ok, I guess they were a detail. The quilt my aunt made, which many of the guests signed, and is on top of my bed every chilly night–that mattered. I look at it every day, it still matters. The hula hoops on the dance floor were a brilliant idea. The post-ceremony parade with kazoos and streamers that turned out just like I’d hoped. My last-second jewelry–the headband that was made by a friend of a friend who wasn’t even invited to the wedding but heard me struggling with making it and just made one for me out of nowhere, and the necklace that was made by my best friend after I almost went crazy searching for The Perfect Necklace. The necklaces I gave the wedding party women, which they all still wear and which makes me grin every time I see it.

    What it comes down to, for me, is that I remember the details that are about love. The love I held that day, the love others held for me. Especially the ones I see every day–the quilt, the cranes we hung up in the corner. Anything that wasn’t about love, I don’t remember as being important.

    • Marina

      Also, can I just say–everyone told me the detail I would care the most about was photography. And I really, really don’t. That is the detail I am gladdest that I stayed true to myself–I knew I didn’t need to spend $2k or $4k or whatever, that I would be just as happy having snapshots from my fantastic amateur photographer friends. And I am.

  • http://habit-online.blogspot.com/ // Sarah

    item a) holy crap, I’m in love with the new look of your site… it’s so beautiful, fresh & inviting… love, love, love! congrats!!

    item b) details.

    we cut a lot of corners, but definitely focused on others. i did my own makeup and hair, spent $30 on flowers to make my & my BMs bouquets, had my sister make cupcakes in lieu of a fancy cake, etc… and coudn’t have been happier. the flowers were fab, i looked like i normally do (which was what i wanted), the cupcakes were delicious.

    for me, the important details were the “brand” of the wedding. i designed, hand printed & assembled all of our invites… then used the scraps to create matching placeholders for each guest & a seating chart.

    the one thing we knew we wanted to spend money on was food & wine, because it’s something we’re passionate about — so that’s where we spent the bulk of our money.

    the one thing i would have focused less on is the dress. i would have been happy with a simple $200 dress (BCBG has some great ones: http://tinyurl.com/2b6y9zh), as long as it fit & looked nice, but it was important to my mom to go through the wedding dress buying process and get something special. It was great to spend time with my mom, but for something you’re going to wear once, i would have been happy in something less expensive.

    (some pics from our wedding: http://habit-online.blogspot.com/2010/02/its-been-while.html)

    great post!! xo

  • Vanessa

    ohhh details. man. I am still a wedding undergraduate, the wedding is this summer. It has been crazy finding the things that matter to me/us. I just finished my interior design degree so I can get really picky about some thing, but I have also realized there are other things I couldn’t care less about. I have spent a lot of time at goodwill over the last year finding milkglass vases and mason jars, because at my goodwill they are cheap as hell and I really like the look of them. I don’t care if the blog world says they have been overdone and done again, I still have never seen them at a wedding I have attended. so for my guests they are still new. whatever. I also made a bajillion candles in little mason jars, and by make I mean standing in the kitchen melting wax gluing little wicks and yada, yada.. it took some time but I kind of love them. I know no one will notice them, but they are my little project for me, not them. I guess the centerpieces were pretty important to me. And good food and drinks, and fun music. But am I spending any time worrying about chair covers, perfect invites, place cards, and color coordinating flowers. HELL NO. NOT. WORTH. IT. I have much better things to spend my time and money on. But if that’s your thing, go for it!
    When I was younger I thought the dress was where it was at. I was all about it. Now that I am actually planning this, the dress wasn’t such a big deal. I got it online. I love it. I don’t feel like it is the most amazing thing ever, I never cried and all that, but it is totally me. It is different than anyone I know has done and that is kind of my thing. So I love it.
    Turns out, it was the photography that was my BIG THING. We have a small budget and are trying to not spend our entire saving on this but from day one I said “we are getting a damn good photographer!” and we did. Actually it is Heather of One Love Photo. We set that date and booked her within a month. A year ago. And with everything that has made me want to bash my head on a wall and rip my hair out, in the end I am marrying the greatest man I have ever met and Heather will be there to capture it. That keeps me grounded every day.
    The details only have to be what you want them to be. It is different for ALL of us but as long as you find the things that really matter to you both and let everything else fall into place it will all work out in the end. Plus at the end of the day you will be married to someone AWESOME. F the rest of it, it will work.

    • marissa

      Totally photography… I’m on that boat too. One of the few “real” wedding expenses included in our wedding.

  • Marisa-Andrea

    Meg, another post that I LOVE. This absolutely resonated with me. I spent much of our wedding planning thinking I didn’t care about the details when really, I didn’t care about the details WIC SAID I should care about. The things that most people asked me about were surprisingly, things that mattered very little to us. We weren’t intense about a color theme, I didn’t care if I had goblets or flutes, I didn’t even THINK about centerpieces until two days before and my dress…well, believe it or not, it was more important to me that I had on pink nail polish and lingerie because well, pink is my power color and it’s my ME color and I needed to wear pink.

    But what I DID care about? Having our guests stand around us during the ceremony as we said our vows and invited them to make vows to us. That is something I will treasure forever and brings me to tears whenever I think about it. Having my mom’s awesome lemonade because it really is a treat. Not having dinner plated because I wanted family style and was quite adamant about it.

    Let’s raise a glass to brides caring about the details that matter to THEM and not anyone else. Cheers!

  • marissa

    I’m 6 days out and I think my most favorite detail so far is the announcements. We designed them together and they are totally us in color and style. The actual wedding will be in Vegas witnessed by immediate family. It was originally planned as an elopement, but feelings were a little hurt over this so we bent to include those closest to us. Having the immediate families there will be huge for me since I am all about family, but I don’t consider them a detail.

  • http://october12-thedayafter.blogspot.com/ Brandi

    I’m glad I popped by today. Details that matter have been on my mind lately.

    The details that mattered that day were having time in the morning with my mom and girls, the Taylor Mali poem that was read during the ceremony (and the ceremony), that people we loved were involved in meaningful ways. And the food arrived. Late, but no one cared because its arrival time didn’t affect the taste.

  • http://fifteengrandwedding.blogspot.com Emily

    This thread just single-handedly convinced me to skip programs (which I already designed as I’m a graphic designer.) THANK YOU ALL. I’m sure our guests will get over it! :)

  • Jean

    Ok, I know I’m chiming in here late, but I *just* got married. As in, last Saturday. The details that mattered to me were:
    1) Traditional ceremony: we’re both religious, so sanctity was important to us. We ended up blending a traditional Methodist ceremony with a few pieces from the Book of Common Prayer.
    2) Flowers: we had them in abundance, and they were stunning. We organized them ourselves on the day of the wedding into alter vases, center pieces, side pieces, bouquets, garlands, petals, boutonnieres, bunches, clumps and faerie circles, and some we just scattered, but they were everywhere, and they were perfect.
    3) Food: dessert reception, with a total of 10 cakes including the head cake, plus a bunch of other sweet, wonderful things. Dry wedding, btw, but coffee and hot tea and fresh apple cider go great with cakes on an October night.
    4) Candles: same principle as the flowers. We bought some new candle holders and rummaged others from my parents’ house, and we even found some at the church that they said we could borrow. I lit as much fire as they let me get away with.
    5) Dress: must have straps. I refused to spend the evening worried that I would step on my train and be spontaneously naked. Also, must not poof – I don’t like feeling cumbersome.

    That’s it. Everything else we faked or improvised or omitted. The whole thing was done for less than $1000, dress included, and we had over 100 people there. It was the best night of my entire life. I figured that flowers and fire are two of the most naturally beautiful things in the world, and that if we had those, food, friends, family and a beautiful October night, everything would be perfect.

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