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Anna & Matt


Anna & Matt | A Practical Wedding

To me, Anna sums up one of the whole philosophical messages of APW in the first line of her wedding graduate post. I read it, my mouth drooped open, and I nodded, wide eyed. “Yes,” I said, “This.” So what are we waiting for? Here is Anna’s beautiful, wise, and funny wedding grad post, along with tips for DJing your wedding with an iPod (girlfriend gives you a little practical to go with her excellent philosophical, thank you very much.)

Anna & Matt | A Practical Wedding

After becoming engaged, my mother told me, “You know, you can be an adult without being married, but you can’t be married and not be an adult.”  At the time, I agreed but didn’t think much about it. Now, six months after our wedding, her words keep coming back to me, ringing as one of the truest characterizations of my own process of getting married.  Planning this wedding basically forced my husband and I to confront and negotiate with all the people in our lives at once, and I’ve come to see the pain and frustration that comes with going through all of that as a necessary catalyst for growing up and for carving out a place for our new family within the existing ones.

Anna & Matt | A Practical Wedding

Throughout the planning, I grappled with issues so many of us do:  guilt for asking so much of people to be a part of our wedding day (both in planning and attending), frustration at family whose assumptions conflicted with our own, and the immense challenge of planning a ceremony and celebration that artfully reflected and honored both of our families’, cultural backgrounds, traditions, and expectations, to mention a few.

Anna & Matt | A Practical Wedding

Admittedly, I tend to take a lot on in all areas of my life: everything from work projects to parties. This is partially because I don’t want to “burden” others with my own projects/needs, but also because I often (wrongly) think I can do it best myself without others slowing me down. I started off the planning process fantasizing about a fairly traditional, yet crafty, casual, rustic, laid-back, and charming wedding day that came together seemingly effortlessly (that’s all!).  We strove to create an honest ceremony that reflected both of us and planned a big, fun celebration, prioritizing food, music, and dancing. But nowhere in this dream did I picture the wants and needs of others. I was determined to pull this off without the pressure and fuss of mainstream expectations or the wedding-industrial complex, and particularly without the burden and pressure of input from in-laws, my family, or friends.  I was excited to plan the wedding we wanted, all on our own.

Anna & Matt | A Practical Wedding

Well I can now tell you that my original fantasy was unattainable. I learned that an effortless, meaningful, laid-back wedding managed entirely on your own cannot not exist when you’re dealing with a 250-person guest list, tight budget constraints, plus the inevitable tension resulting from a union between two people with different religious backgrounds and entirely different family situations (my parents are happily married, while his are recently divorced with his father remarried, and the dust hasn’t quite settled yet).  I felt totally overwhelmed throughout most of the planning process.

Anna & Matt | A Practical Wedding

I was not the island I thought I would be.  A mother-in-law will desperately want the Mother/Son dance you equally as desperately don’t want.  A father-in-law will insist on inviting distant cousins and work colleagues you’ve never met.  Your husband’s Jewish family will want to feel honored in your Christian ceremony, but your family will also expect the integrity of a Christian service to be uncompromised.  Some very important family members may even threaten to not attend because you won’t comply with their requests…

Anna & Matt | A Practical Wedding

It was easy to disregard these demands as totally unfair and focus on my own hurt feelings, but I slowly came to realize that all of these people deserve respect for their expectations and input. Being a part of a family and then starting your own  requires compromise and will inevitably result in growing pains.

Anna & Matt | A Practical Wedding

I figured out that it was OK to skip the Mother/Son dance I didn’t want as long as we picked a designated song ahead of time that she and my husband would dance together to during the reception.  I also realized that adding a dozen additional couples to the guest list went a long way to making his dad feel honored, and that his request wasn’t selfish — he was proud and wanted to share his joy with the people who were important to him. We followed a Lutheran service but asked a friend to read our Old Testament reading in Hebrew and English, sang a Christian hymn with a Hebrew melody, and my husband broke a glass when it was all done.

Anna & Matt | A Practical Wedding

I see the whole engagement and wedding process as a struggle, and our wedding day was our reward in the end.  We didn’t get the wedding I originally planned to have, but the one we got was better. The plan evolved as we managed people and the complications they brought.  I slowly figured out that letting people help me with the setting up and logistics (diy-ing our flowers, invitations, programs, centerpieces, music, decorations etc.) kept me sane, but I also realized they were so happy to help.

Anna & Matt | A Practical Wedding

My sister and I spent countless hours on the button boutonnieres, fabric corsages, and bridesmaid gifts.  My friends came over for a night of wine, cheese, and invitation assembly, and my cousins and dear friends arrived early in the day to cut flowers, arrange centerpieces, string lights, and hang lanterns, and somehow I allowed them to help me. My mom didn’t resent the three days she spent prior to the wedding running errands and helping with my inane projects she would never otherwise entertain.  She told me that seeing my happiness on my wedding day brought her true joy.

Anna & Matt | A Practical Wedding

I’m not saying I wasn’t an adult before, but I certainly feel more grown up now.  I more clearly see my place within my own communities, and I’m really happy with where that is.  I want to be as much of a blessing to them, as they have been to me.

Anna & Matt | A Practical Wedding

Anna & Matt | A Practical Wedding

On a practical note, I have advice for anyone thinking of forgoing a band/DJ for an iPod playlist.  DO it.  Music was a top priority for us, and we could not have been happier with how it all went down.  A few of my most important tips:

  1. Read about it beforehand to see how others have done it and for playlist suggestions.  Meg’s guide was particularly helpful.
  2. Enlist an iPod bouncer (or two). We had someone who thought he knew better than us about the flow of music and tried to adjust our PERFECTLY CRAFTED playlist midstream. I was FUMING, but somehow calmly managed to say, “We worked really hard on this playlist, so please back off.” In hindsight, I hated being in that position, so a wedding playlist bouncer is an excellent idea. Make sure it’s your biggest, most intimidating friend, too.
  3. If possible shorten the songs, which you can do through iTunes.  Because, come on, do we really need to hear the entirety of Dancing Queen to be emotionally satisfied?  2 minutes and 30 seconds did the trick for me!  This allows you to get the maximum number of songs into the shortest amount of time and keeps the party moving.  We cut down a majority of our songs, and no one noticed a thing. (Note:  We’re both from NJ, as were most of our guests, and the wedding was held at Rutgers University.  This was A Very Jersey Wedding, and we did NOT shorten Livin’ on a Prayer.)

Anna & Matt | A Practical Wedding

Photos By: Brendan McInerney and Dan Bracaglia

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  • http://irisira.wordpress.com irisira

    iPod DJ. In hindsight, I *really* wish we did this. Our DJ was OK, but there were a few things he just completely ignored and did his own thing (like, for example, we wanted classic rock/folk-style music during dinner – C and I both love it, but you can’t really dance to it – and instead he played some instrumental garbage). For the price, it did the trick, but then again, we could have done our own thing for free. And I even know who I would have assigned as iPod bouncer. :)

    PS to the bride – we are not from Jersey, but we did not shorten Livin on a Prayer, either. That would be a SIN in my book! :)

    • Casey

      Me too, totally! Our DJ informed us that people don’t dance to our kind of music, and we informed him that OUR people DO dance to this kind of music, and he ignored us and played what appeared to be a Pandora list based on Blah Blah Blah by Ke$ha. Hahaha. We got over it, but I’m definitely recommending iPod DJ-ing to anyone who asks in the future!

      • http://irisira.wordpress.com irisira

        For the most part, he complied with our requests. There was minor stuff, like I really wanted Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance (which is the only Gaga song I particularly like, and I REALLY like it) and really DIDN’T want Let’s Dance, and C really DIDN’T want Poker Face. So? He played Let’s Dance AND Poker Face, but not Bad Romance.

        A big deal? No, not really. Our guests obviously didn’t notice. Two of my friends made up a HILARIOUS dance to Poker Face that our photographer got great pictures of. It all worked out. But on the other hand, I thought, “Really, what exactly am I paying you for, anyway?”

        In the end, it was a lot less work to hire a DJ and probably not that much more expensive than it would have been to rent speakers and do it ourselves.

        • http://irisira.wordpress.com irisira

          You know, I just thought of something else. My mom’s best friend got married a few months before my husband and I got engaged (that was where he started asking me about rings and I started to get suspicious of his intentions, actually), and they did the iPod DJ, with her niece (who is a few years younger than me) in charge of the playlist, and a coworker of hers as the unofficial emcee.

          There wasn’t a whole lot of rhyme or reason to it, except at the beginning when they did the first dance, father daughter dance, etc. (which the emcee kept on track), but no one cared. They even replayed a few songs twice in a row because people were having fun with them. Everyone still danced.

  • Vmed

    I can’t quite put my finger on why, but this was one of my favorite graduate posts.

    Maybe because what your mother said should be writ large on my living room wall during the planning process…and beyond? Awesome.

  • Richelle

    This is a brilliant AND beautiful message! Anna, you are one wise lady. I particularly liked this line:

    “It was easy to disregard these demands as totally unfair and focus on my own hurt feelings, but I slowly came to realize that all of these people deserve respect for their expectations and input.”

    So true, and yet son hard to see when you’re in the middle of the planning vortex.

    And I love your yellow accents, and you and your hubby are just gorgeous together! Congratulations and Mazel Tov!

    • http://annadishes.wordpress.com Anna

      “So true, and yet son hard to see when you’re in the middle of the planning vortex.”

      This is very true as well. It took me a good deal of time and tears until I came around to this way of thinking. It’s definitely a process. :)

    • http://bunniesnbeagles.blogspot.com Ms. Bunny

      So many times I have run head first into family expectations and come out bruised. I figured I’d have problems with immediate family members, and that compromise would be necessary in those cases. But I never expected I’d have problems with extended family members. Adjusting to the idea that their expectations also deserve respect is really hard. But they are also part of the family so I guess I need to this same wisdom with them too.

  • http://www.theweddingschedulizer.com/ Holly

    Anna I totally agree with what you said about your mum helping you. Initially I didn’t want to ask people to help with tasks associated with our wedding, I sort of thought that if they wanted to help, well then they would offer to help, and us asking would only be an imposition. Well I was totally wrong, turns out people were actually honoured to be asked to help with our wedding plans, even though in some instances we thought ‘There’s no way they will agree to do this, it’s just too much’. But they do, and it’s amazing. I just love the way family-made celebrations bring everybody together, both before hand and of course on the day!

  • KW

    This is *exactly* why I come to APW! This is *exactly* how I imagine my wedding planning process will go. This is what I’ve been mulling, but haven’t been able to put into coherent thoughts for others.

    As a midwesterner who went to grad school at Rutgers, I totally get your wedding, the combining of different religions, and DJ/Jovi issues!

    And your dress is so lovely! Adorable and elegant at the same time. Can we ask who it is by, so we know who has non-strapless silhouettes available?

    • http://annadishes.wordpress.com Anna

      I had a very hard time finding dresses that worked for me, and became completely enamoured with this J Crew dress from a few years back (http://classicbride.blogspot.com/2009/06/found-elusive-daphne-dress.html), which was, of course, completely impossible to find even used. I did some intense Google searching on this dress and eventually discovered a bunch of ladies in the same position who either went to a seamstress to recreate it (more cheaply than you would think, I found prices in range of $450-700). Eventually, one of my very talented aunts offered to make it for me, and she pieced it together from several patterns we found at Jo-Anns. Good luck on your search!!

      • Jennifer

        Ah! I’m slightly embarrassed that my first thought on reading this post was not “wise, wise words” but “ooh, that’s like that J. Crew Daphne dress I loved!” How wonderful to not only have a lovely dress, but one made by an aunt!

      • http://blametheweatherman.wordpress.com Melissa

        That is AMAZING. I’m not very seamstressy, so these feats generally amaze me – but your dress is absolutely gorgeous.

    • Class of 1980

      I wish someone would wear this one. It’s around $900-$1,000 and it’s stunning.

      http://www.maggiesottero.com/dress.aspx?line=d&page=1&style=AD3395

      • http://www.seemetalk.blogspot.com Genki

        I would wear this in a flash. Gorgeous! I may just have to copy it…

      • http://bride-sans-tulle.blogspot.com Sharon

        That dress is gorgeous! Too bad I’m done getting hitched. Do you think my husband would be okay with me buying it to lounge around and watch TV in? ;)

  • http://jolynn.wordpress.com Jo

    Your hair is *gorgeous*.

    Now that’s aside, I love this. That philosophy of your mum’s? That’s why we went the wedding way. We figured it’s the labor process of the “officialness” of the new family. I kind of want an epidural. (That’s what margaritas are for, right?!)

    Such an incredibly beautiful wedding, with very wise compromises.

    Thanks for the encouragement!

  • http://oversized-cliches.blogspot.com Zan

    Man have I struggled with this. We wanted 80 people, a bbq, and a come-as-you-are dress-code. Now, for a variety of reasons, it’s a 300 person invite list, a sit-down meal, and a more-on-the-dressy-side-of-life dress code.

    Sometimes the whiplash between what we wanted and what we are actually doing (in part to honor certain requests of others) feels so stressful I want to give up and cry. Not because any one is actively making me feel bad or being mean to me, but because the tension between the two sometimes feels so heavy I think I’ll break.

    And oh, oh, how I wrestle with the guilt of asking people to do things for me. I actually had the insane thought that I wished we had enough money that we could pay for everyone’s airfare/hotels/etc so that no one had to be burdened by coming to our wedding. Thankfully I have you all to bring me back to earth when I start feeling crazy like that.

    But I guess like Anna says, it’s growing pains.

    And now for the superficial sidenote: A lovely flattering beautiful dress … WITH SLEEVES!!! It’s like actually finding the snipe!

    • Edelweiss

      Zan! I have totally thought that! Then I ditched airfare, but I still waffle about hotel rooms – which of course means finding a place cheap enough that we could AFFORD everyone’s hotel rooms – which then started dictating absolutely every other plan I had for the day. It’s so nice to know I’m not alone in crazy-land.

      • http://oversized-cliches.blogspot.com Zan

        If only crazy-land were a real place — then all of us in it could meet up for wine and nachos.

        • Edelweiss

          And with that, my menu for tonight is planned!

        • FawMo

          Yes to wine and nachos!

      • Sarah

        If this helps at all, we settled this dilemma by paying for our wedding party accommodations. For everyone else there are enough reasonable accommodations to choose from and we are providing an awesome party so I think it’s a fair deal! (Also more money to spend on what we had at the top of our list-food, alcohol and music AND the honeymoon!)

    • http://quiltonthetracks.posterous.com Margaret M.

      Please don’t stress about the money people are spending to come to your wedding. If it’s too expensive for them, they wouldn’t be coming. They’re coming because they love you and because they want to be with you on an important day in your life and because they decided they could afford it.

      Yes, weddings are sometimes expensive for guests, usually when there’s travel involved. Sometimes they might even gripe about it, although hopefully only in private because I think it’s pretty poor form. But you have to trust that they’re adults and can make their own cost benefit decisions when they receive your invitation.

      Meg has a post, I believe, on how your wedding is not a burden. Definitely go read that!

      • http://oversized-cliches.blogspot.com Zan

        Yeah! Meg does have a post on this. http://apracticalwedding.com/2010/01/you-guys/
        I re-read it frequently.

        The availability of those posts is what I meant when I said, “Thankfully I have you all to bring me back to earth when I start feeling crazy like that.” Because I love Meg, but it’s not just Meg writing these things that makes the sentiments powerful — it’s that there’s this whole community of people, like you Margaret M. :), who back her up and make those messages that much stronger through a chorus of “exactly!”s and touching, thoughtful comments.

        • http://quiltonthetracks.posterous.com Margaret M.

          Aww. Well good. And hang in there, ok? It’s going to be finer than fine.

      • http://irisira.wordpress.com irisira

        EXCELLENT advice Margaret. And so, so true. I found Meg’s blog about a month into planning, when I was fighting with my mother and my family was griping about the type of wedding my husband and I wanted to throw, and it happened to be THAT post was one of the first I stumbled upon. That, and Channamasala’s “Bridezilla” post over at Offbeat Bride really were a great launching point for me.

        Zan, your wedding is going to be awesome and fun, and NOT a burden on people.

  • http://keepleftlookright.wordpress.com/ keepleftlookright

    From the first sentence (‘Exactly’ times a thousand) to the idea of thinking I could do it best (we are kindred, control-freak spirits, perhaps) to the ‘Livin on a Prayer’ (yes, we did in fact have an 80s band at our wedding), this was just about the most fan-freakin-tastic wedding post. They are all great, but this one resonates with me on a really, deep level because weddings are full of compromises, and that is what being an adult is about.

    Oh, and on a slightly superficial note myself – as Zan says above your dress is gorge, but your hair is also totally to die for!

  • Kt

    What a wonderful & inspiring post! You have also given me strength on our decision to iPod our wedding – we’ve worked on the playlist, but I would LOVE to know how to shorten the songs via iTunes if you have an explanation or link to a tutorial!

    • http://annadishes.wordpress.com Anna

      Let me consult with my sister and get back to you. She did the actual shortening, while I did the consulting. (Eg, Her: How many minutes of Like a Prayer do you want? Me: 3) :-)

    • Valerie

      I would like to know more about how to shorten as well. We are less than three weeks out and the plan is to iPod DJ as well.

      What I’d really like to know in general is when people say “iPod DJ”, do you actually mean an iPod or did you hook up your laptop? I have an iphone, he has a droid, and we have one laptop whose batteries die when it is unplugged (damn you, Apple). I’m worried one of the phones will ring and interrupt the music (I guess i could turn off the mobile), but if everyone really means “laptop DJ” then maybe I should talk someone in to lending us a working laptop for the night.

      • Alicia

        I would say it’s a lot easier to do from a laptop rather than a mobile phone. It makes it easier to do some quick changes if at all necessary – to see exactly how far you might need to quickly fast-forward a song if needed. we did this and it worked incredibly well – I wouldn’t have wanted to do straight from my iphone for the reasons you just said.

        • http://annadishes.wordpress.com Anna

          We ended up using both. We played primarily off of the laptop but had the iPod there as a backup and for the songs we needed to play at a certain point (first dance, pie cutting, etc.) without touching the actual playlist. Having the backup is also a really good idea in case something fails with your laptop. I’ll update this thread later with directions on shortening songs once I can chat with my sis about it.

    • http://www.suncentered.com Jenny

      It’s easy! Right-click on the song and go to “get info.” Under the options tab, you can change the times where the song starts and stops. :)

    • http://annadishes.wordpress.com Anna

      Ok, so I apologize for being misleading on this point. It turns out she used Garage Band on her Mac to shorten the songs. From my sister:

      I used Garage Band for the Mac, and I’m sure there’s a similar music mixing/editing program for a PC. It was really easy. All the instructions for cutting songs are in the help menu. Drag the song file over to the program. Then you literally cut out and delete the portion of the song that you don’t want. If you want to cut out a verse in the middle of the song, just highlight that section, delete it, and drag the other part of the song back so it connects to the beginning. The program has a fadeout feature, so the cuts at the end of the song aren’t abrupt. You can also make medleys, just drag additional song files over to the program and line up all the songs in the order you want to hear them

      A music editing program like Garage Band (comes standard with a Mac) is the easiest way to go. On iTunes you can cut songs by inputting the start and stop times you want for the song, but it would be so much more choppy.

      Wearing cool, oversized, bejeweled DJ headphones while you do all this is key to the process, as well!

      • Kt

        Great, thanks for the details Anna! I have a Mac, so I’ll try my hand at Garage Band & see what happens :)

  • http://www.lovelyatyourside.com LovelyOlivia

    For some reason this post made me tear up. I think it’s because I am in the midst of all this baby family, family, wedding process now…but I think what got me most was reading about how your loved ones helped you do things, and then thinking about how lucky I am to have the people I have…this was a great post, and a very necessary one (for me!) for right now! I certainly wanted things my way, and I really, really didn’t realize how emotional, tough, and struggling wedding planning could be. It’s a huge lesson, and I’m learning something new every. single. day. Thanks Meg and Anna!

  • http://blametheweatherman.wordpress.com Melissa

    I love that Livin’ On A Prayer was kept pure & I’m not even a Jersey girl!

    This: “Admittedly, I tend to take a lot on in all areas of my life: everything from work projects to parties. This is partially because I don’t want to “burden” others with my own projects/needs, but also because I often (wrongly) think I can do it best myself without others slowing me down.” ANNA. ARE WE TWINS?!

    I joke about excellent delegation all the time at work, but the truth is for personal issues, I don’t want to let up the reigns – for those exact reasons. I have such an awful guilt complex about asking for help for virtually anything. I want to be seen as Super Woman. Weakness is totally unacceptable. My wedding is a week away from tomorrow (EEE!!!) & letting other people help has taken the longest for me to stomach. And it has been SUCH. A. RELIEF.

    (Also. I love your hair. A lot)

  • Esme

    This is a fantastic post – well done Anna. Echoing the hair style love, it’s a gorgeous style!

    Our compromise is the location (near his parents, ages away from mine, when we wanted it where we live, which is in the middle). But it makes his parents so proud to have the wedding near them and in exchange my Mum is getting her ‘bit’ by hosting the rehearsal dinner. So hopefully it will all be worth it!

    Loving the line about marriage and being an adult. Brilliant.

  • Amy

    we are working on our ipod playlist now, and i must say one of the APW wedding grads put out the BEST idea a few weeks back and it has helped oh so much. We used dropbox and invited our friends with extensive music collections to start throwing stuff in our music folder. Although lots of it might not be used at our wedding, we now have all this new music (and so do they because it is all shared). I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it – we should all share our playlists and create an APW database! Come on, folks, we have about a month till our big day and would love some more song ideas :)
    Also, question for Anna and Matt: did you feel like your ipod bouncer was cool with this responsibility? i know we need to designate someone but I don’t want to pull anyone out of the party with a huge job like this.

    • http://annadishes.wordpress.com Anna

      We actually didn’t have an iPod bouncer, but it’s something I recommend for anyone planning to go this route. It may not be an issue, but the last thing you want is for your playlist to be hijacked after you’ve spent hours putting it together. We probably would have picked someone or two from the wedding party who would have been comfortable approaching people if needed but wouldn’t ask them to guard the iPod all night. Just to keep an eye on it just in case :)

      • Vmed

        I just had an idea. What about an iPod cage, like the birdcages you put wedding cards in, but instead it’s where you perch your ipodj?

        And a note that says it bites so keep your fingers out the cage.

        • Amy

          Ha! Good idea! Don’t know if we’ll find a cage, but we’ll definitely try to keep the laptop in an out of the way (read: hard to find) place.

          • http://bride-sans-tulle.blogspot.com Sharon

            This is what we did (we stuck it behind a screen w/ all the venue’s AV equipment). Our emcee (husband’s former roommate) ended up taking it upon himself to guard the playlist. (He was also a wee bit tipsy and started sports-announcing what everyone was doing on the dance floor. Waaaaaay more fun than DJ-stranger!)

          • http://irisira.wordpress.com irisira

            He was also a wee bit tipsy and started sports-announcing what everyone was doing on the dance floor.

            OH MY GOD, I LOVE IT.

        • meredythbyrd

          my fiance just said the same basic thing, like a lockbox, when I told him about the bouncer idea! Although, friendly but large friends would also help, maybe those who can deflect rather than attack?

  • SusiQ

    I completely agree with Meg- Anna NAILED the marriage (pun intended) of wisdom and practicality in this post. Oh, and she looked absolutely *stunning* every step of the way. Wow. While I would never rank the graduate posts (they are all so brave and lovely), this one is incredible. Redheads unite! Hehe.

  • http://nickandnoragettingmarried.wordpress.com Annie

    “Livin’ on a Prayer” might just be the best wedding reception song ever, whether you’re in NJ or not. People flock to the dance floor. My fiance and I have blown out our voices shouting the lyrics at friends’ receptions.

    Also, “You can be an adult without being married, but you can’t be married and not be an adult” might be my new wedding mantra. Anna’s whole post is like this advice–sensible, mature, and totally honest. I love how potential roadblocks, like incorporating two religious backgrounds into one ceremony, worked out beautifully because people worked well together. In a huge industry of “this is MY DAY,” it’s so refreshing to read about a couple who appreciated their loved ones and wanted to include them while also making the day meaningful for themselves as a couple.

  • Cass

    “We didn’t get the wedding I originally planned to have, but the one we got was better.”
    I’m grappling with this right now, actually. And it’s coming in the form of my dress! I thought the dress would be the easy, fun part.
    I originally thought I would get married in a pink, tea-length, 1950’s inspired gown. Instead I got a strapless, white, stain and organza, with lace and beading and long train, traditional gown. And I have NEVER felt more beautiful.
    This has caused dissonance in my thinking – what if what I thought would make me happy really won’t be the best thing for me?
    The good news: I don’t feel this way about my FH, which is the important thing.
    So I guess I’m winning.

    • Karen

      Cass, I had the same thing happen to me — I knew (didn’t think, KNEW) what dress I would get, and it was from this great local designer and a whole twist-on-tradition thing, and then I went to a Big Bridal Shop (just for the experience, of course) and found a dress that made me feel like a million bucks…which the dream twist-on-tradition dress just didn’t do.

      I had a total identity crisis about it…and to be honest, I’m still not sure what it says about me and who I am! (I also haven’t seen the Big Bridal Shop dress in a couple of months and won’t see it again for at least another month, so that could be part of the problem.)

      I love your philosophy that since you haven’t changed your mind about your FH, you’re winning. I’m going to hold on to that, and for the rest of it, I’ll try to enjoy the journey of discovering things in myself I didn’t knew existed (or things I just repressed?)!

      • http://oversized-cliches.blogspot.com Zan

        Dress identity crisis is so weird!! It’s almost as angst inducing as existential-life-path crises! My unexpected dress choice is hanging from my closet — near my bed — taunting me on a daily basis.

        • Another Alice

          Zan, you always beat me to the punch! My I-didn’t-ever-think-I’d-want-a-big-white-dress-but-DAMN-do-I-feel-beautiful-in-this-one dress is hanging in the back of my closet, taunting me, saying “you better get me altered… sooner than later… don’t forget about me”. I’m mostly come around to it, but still feel the occasional twinges, which I’m mitigating by remembering that i’m wearing awesome coral wedges that I already owned and probably a green & coral necklace from my grand-grandmother’s costume jewelry collection.

          I’ll still be me, just me with a bit of a train and some hot, classy cleavage. (and so will you!)

        • http://bride-sans-tulle.blogspot.com Sharon

          Aww, you guys! It’ll be okay! I second-guessed my dress choice (something I totally didn’t envision myself in, but that I loved in the store) from the moment I bought it all the way til the moment I put it on to get married. And then I *loved* it. Because it’s the dress I got married in.

          • http://oversized-cliches.blogspot.com Zan

            The fact that you looked smokin’ probably didn’t hurt.

    • http://carmarblogs.blogspot.com CarMar

      I’m laughing out loud to myself in my office at the last part of your comment. :)

    • Amy

      now i’m having the: “i wanted a very pretty non-white, non-traditional dress-and that’s what i have-and i should be happy-but now every time i look at it i second guess whether i should should just give in to being a bride-and stop being so anti-everything” second thoughts!
      why must we torture ourselves?!

    • http://Cubicalmouse.blogspot.com Stephanie

      I had the same thing too! I was going to make a lovely 50’s tealength dress with a lace overlay…. Then I went to try dresses and fell in love with this huge ballgown with pickups and huge train… I looked beautiful. My mom cried. How could I not get it? And then my 40 person wedding just didn’t for the dress, so it ballooned to a 300 person church wedding. It will be interesting.

  • http://woodentable.blogspot.com Lindsay

    Thank you for writing about compromise. That sums up my wedding planning experience perfectly. I had this idea in my head that the planning would be effortless and fun, and I would be the most laid back bride ever. Really, I wanted a casual, intimate gathering with close friends and family, how hard could that be? What I didn’t count on was that family members, including my husband-to-be, would have other ideas and opinions counter to my own.

    For me the entire process was about finding a way to honor both of our visions while balancing input and feelings of certain family members. It was hard. Really hard. And while I admit to having a few breakdowns along the way, my wedding day just felt right.

  • http://townhousetohome.blogspot.com adria

    This is my most favorite wedding graduate post of all time. If only because I could have written the first 50% of it already, based on my planning experience to date, and hope that the second 50% will come to fruition in the next few months.

    I love it. All of it. And, this, most of all:

    “Throughout the planning, I grappled with issues so many of us do: guilt for asking so much of people to be a part of our wedding day (both in planning and attending), frustration at family whose assumptions conflicted with our own, and the immense challenge of planning a ceremony and celebration that artfully reflected and honored both of our families’, cultural backgrounds, traditions, and expectations, to mention a few.”

    O.M.G. Yes.

  • Edelweiss

    First of all, Anna your wedding just looks like fun, Genuine, wonderful fun. Congratulations on that!

    And I love this: “I’m not saying I wasn’t an adult before, but I certainly feel more grown up now. I more clearly see my place within my own communities, and I’m really happy with where that is. I want to be as much of a blessing to them, as they have been to me.”

    I think that is such an important piece to feel not just in wedding-planning, but in marriage and life. There’s the cocoon of you and your husband, but the community can show you how to nurture that marriage and give you support as you give it back to them. How beautiful to have your wedding be an experience that opens the door to finding your place in that.

    Also – on the iPod playlist idea – we’re still pre-engaged, but the playlist has already been started. We have a Sirius in the car that records. Anytime a song comes on we love and would want part of our wedding- we record it. Not organized yet and we may need to swap some of the recordings for the offial mp3s, but it’s a great fun way for us to start crafting our list.

  • http://rachelhills.tumblr.com Rachel @ Musings of an Inappropriate Woman

    iPod bouncer – I love it! And will almost certainly be employing the idea at my own wedding. I remember one house party where my co-host and I agreed to programme half the night’s music each, and as everyone drank more, some people decided to swap our iPods for their own. NOT cool.

    • meg

      Go back and check my how-to post on iPod DJing your wedding. I talk about that idea, and more!

  • http://beckybopwrites.blogspot.com/ Becky

    Love this post. And your mom is so, so right. My wife and I had been living together for several years, so I didn’t really expect married life to be much different than that. I found, however, that just the very processes of making a commitment and planning a wedding really changed our relationships with our families, and to a lesser degree, with each other. I know lots of people never get married and are still grown-ups just the same, but somehow the whole process made me feel much more grown up, and it’s not just that I have nicer sheets and a stand mixer now!

  • http://hitchdied.wordpress.com Robin HitchDied

    Just want to say, from one Jersey Girl to another, you’re awesome.

  • Pingback: OMG, yes! « CupcakeKay's Blog

  • http://thesaucykitchen.blogspot.com Jess

    Loved this post! You hit the nail on the head with so much of this. And I LOVE your dress. It’s honestly the first thing I noticed. It looks perfect on you!

    • http://annadishes.wordpress.com Anna

      Thank you so much! Most of my anxiety about the day related to what I would look like and the fact that I would be the focus of so much attention, but another benefit of the process is that I was able to become accepting of the unavoidable attention as well. I feel very loved right now!

  • http://www.newlyla.blogspot.com AKP

    “Planning this wedding basically forced my husband and I to confront and negotiate with all the people in our lives at once, and I’ve come to see the pain and frustration that comes with going through all of that as a necessary catalyst for growing up and for carving out a place for our new family within the existing ones.”

    I love your perspective on the planning process as a necessary means to the creation of the baby fam – all the ups and downs seem well worth it in that light!

    And I think this statement rings so so true. Planning a wedding for me was so much more about forming a new family and finding where our new branch would fit in the family tree than I ever thought it would be. We’re still working on it as a married couple, but the wedding really was the catalyst for that process to start, and the discussions we had then have continued to form the framework for our family creation and merger process now.

  • http://koruwedding.blogspot.com Koru Kate

    Cheers to a fellow Jersey Girl! Livin’ on a Prayer was the last song that played at our wedding & the crowd went wild. One of my best wedding memories!!

  • http://emuhleem.typepad.com Emily

    I love this! I’m also considering the iPod DJ, so the bouncer idea is fabulous and one that hand’t even crossed my mind, so thanks!

    I’m running to the same things while planning my wedding. Hurt feelings abound as I try to come to grips with my traditional grandmother and new family-in-law. I’m extremely Type A so I struggle with letting go of responsibilities becuase like you, I often wrongly think I can do a better/faster/less stressful job myself.

    Thanks for the encouragement! Your wedding was gorgeous!

  • Alice919

    “I’m not saying I wasn’t an adult before, but I certainly feel more grown up now. I more clearly see my place within my own communities, and I’m really happy with where that is. I want to be as much of a blessing to them, as they have been to me.”
    THIS! EXACTLY!!!
    I felt that the planning and engagement process was really tough and lovely simultaneously. I grew so much and feel more like an adult, a wife, a sister, a daughter, a sister-in-law, and a daughter-in-law then I ever before.

  • Rachel

    “You know, you can be an adult without being married, but you can’t be married and not be an adult”

    Meg: if this is the sentence you are talking about I can’t agree more. I just sent this same sentence out to every single person I know just because it is amazing, honest, and true.

    Excellent post.

  • Esmith

    Fantastic post… thank god other commenters have covered your FRIGGIN’ FANTASTIC HAIR.

  • June

    I know it’s terrible but I feel as though I have to admit I’m having a hard time with people making sure they comply with extended family members’ requirements / requests. I’m in the middle of my planning process (process being literal) and I can’t help but want to tell these people to shove it. I believe if they have a financial or significant other contribution to our wedding, then yes, they should probably get something their way. But, if someone else is putting demands on something that compromises what you and your fiance want.. I really don’t think you should feel obligated to comply. Yes, weddings are about your family and not just about you. However, it is YOUR wedding and you’re inevitably going to have to offend someone or let someone down. Maybe I’m a bit bitter right now (is it obvious??)… but, I still felt as though I needed to contribute my two cents…

    • bumblebee611

      You’re not alone, June, and I completely agree that if someone isn’t making a significant contribution to the wedding, there is no reason for someone to feel obligated to please them (and perhaps even if they *are* contributing). I know that for my FMIL, the only thing that would please her is if her son and I split up, and it isn’t going to happen, and I hate the notion that just because he is her son he should continue feeling obligated to please someone who is unreasonable, disrespectful, racist, classist, you name it — just because she is his mother. Now, *wanting* to please someone you love because you want them to be happy, and it doesn’t involve hurting yourself or your relationship to do so is another thing — but feeling obligated is a different story. If it’s a gift from someone who loves you, IMO it shouldn’t come with those sorts of strings attached.

      • June

        It’s definitely nice to know I’m not alone – However, I’m sorry to hear about the complete lack of support from your FMIL. My situation is more regarding the amount of religion involved in our ceremony (I personally would like to have none at all and my fiance’s side wants religion there full force). I hope that your FMIL comes around – I think mine had a bit of a problem with me not being religious. But, I think she realized that we’re going to remain a couple no matter what and there’s really not too much she can do about it. We’re both adults who can make our own decisions. And you have a good point about obligation vs. wanting to please others. There are a lot of people I want to please, but their ideas seem to stretch our wedding in too many directions that it’s just starting to lose any focus. It’ll just be a process to find a happy middle ground.

  • June

    Your dress is gorgeous dress by the way – Sorry I didn’t mention it earlier :)

  • http://bride-sans-tulle.blogspot.com Sharon

    I love this post. Anna is so wise, and her comments about learning to accommodate their families reminds me of something my friend/day-of-coordinator said at our rehearsal. I was marveling at how well she was keeping her cool when every other second one of our family members would go up to her and give her an opinion on how they thought the ceremony should go. She replied, “Well, I just make sure they know that I heard and understand them, and then I say I’ll run the decision by the couple. Most people actually don’t care if their suggestion gets implemented, they just want to be heard and acknowledged. That’s the important part – making sure they feel that their voice is being heard.” Blew my mind, y’all. If I’d known that earlier, I think it would have saved me a lot of planning angst.

  • Class of 1980

    I think “iPod Bouncer” should be in the dictionary. ;)

  • http://www.thepinkthink.com/ Kali

    I’m new to this blog but have greatly enjoyed the posts I’ve read so far. I’m in the midst of wedding planning and this particular post really touched me. I feel so many of the same things, and knowing that Anna ended up truly enjoying her day gives me hope that despite the hurdles, I will feel the same way. Thank you!

  • Kathryn

    ” Planning this wedding basically forced my husband and I to confront and negotiate with all the people in our lives at once, and I’ve come to see the pain and frustration that comes with going through all of that as a necessary catalyst for growing up and for carving out a place for our new family within the existing ones.”

    Oh my goodness yes. I could not have put it better.

  • Laura

    I loved Anna’s perspective. It’s so true that well-intentioned friends and family deserve consideration. You can’t please everyone, but those who love you want to celebrate your happiness in the way they know how. I’m in the midst of planning, and this post reminded me that some of the most well-intentioned people who are driving me crazy only want the best for us that day.

    Also, totally agree on the confrontation/compromise with others. Wedding planning has forced me to face my differences with my own family and stand by what is right for me.

  • http://www.linseykitchens.com Linsey

    Anna,

    Tell me how you found your way around this: “This is partially because I don’t want to “burden” others with my own projects/needs, but also because I often (wrongly) think I can do it best myself without others slowing me down.”

    My daily struggle.

    And, your hair is artwork!

  • Roadrunner

    Anna! Are those plastic forks? If so, that’s fantastic! We’re planning on a lunch buffet at a picnic pavilion for our reception, and the caterer provides paper plates and plastic forks, but I’ve been worrying about this. Did it work for you? Anything to watch out for? Would you recommend doing something different? Am I worrying about nothing?

    • http://annadishes.wordpress.com Anna

      This totally worked for us. I don’t even remember the plates or forks, so we didn’t run into any problems. The plastic plates were fairly substantial. I suppose it if was super windy, you might have issues with empty plates flying away (only thing I can think to look out for).

  • http://walnutranchwedding.blogspot.com Alanna

    Thank you for this! I have been going back and forth on DJ v. ipod, and this definitely helps inform my decision. I haven’t yet brought this up to my mom, but I’m pretty positive that she and gma will have something to say about this idea, (and that something won’t be, “What a great idea!”). Thanks for your post. Your wedding looks beautiful!

  • http://shesnotthemarryingkind.blogspot.com/ Marty J. Christopher

    Love the J. Crew Daphne (-style?) dress! And your hair! Gorgeous bride, wonderful post!