Today’s Ask Team Practical is about one of the enduring complexities of wedding planning—explaining what you’re doing to a world hooked on crazy TLC wedding shows. Being a bride can feel a lot like being public property: everyone has ideas about what you should and shouldn’t be doing. So today Alyssa tackles explaining your practical wedding to the peanut gallery (pro-tip from me: practical doesn’t equal dogmatic, and you might need to learn to nod and smile).
Without even being engaged, I feel the eyebrow raises from people about non-WIC choices. Just this week I heard, “He bought cases of Two Buck Chuck for his wedding? Come on…it’s your WEDDING!” as well as, “What’s next, e-mail invitations?” Both of which I think are awesome ideas. Both times, I responded with, “Actually I like that idea. Why not?” Which I hope made both people think a little.
My question is, at the very beginning of an engagement, how do you explain to people the idea of being Practical? How do you introduce that, especially to your mother, friends, vendors or even your fiance? What’s the best way to try and nip problems in the bud, before they start throwing tulle and roses and glitter at you? Or is it all a process of calmly explaining things as they come?
Frankly, I kind of love the idea of throwing tulle and roses and glitter at someone. It makes me want to hide around corners and then jump out and scream, “You’re getting married!!” and then start chucking decor at brides-to-be… *ahem.*
Ever hear the expression, “Opinions are like a**holes. Everyone has them?” Well, wedding opinions are like bikini waxes; not everyone has had them, but everyone has something to say about them—and those who have had them are the worst. There’s no real way around peoples’ opinions, but the best way to deal with them is the same way you deal with them on any other subject: nod, smile and then go about your business.
You guys have all read the APW philosophy, right? (I know Meg killed herself writing it, so you should just to make her happy, even if it wasn’t useful. Which it is.) Looking at it, you’ll realize your mom probably had a Practical Wedding. (Hello, Vintage Weddings?) People have Practical Weddings all the time and have no idea. So if you sat someone down and went, “Here’s what we’re doing and why,” and outlined the basic ideals of APW, they’d probably look at you sideways because it just makes sense (and people think it’s weird when weddings make sense). Of course, weddings are supposed to be laid-back and fun! In general, A Practical Wedding sounds like a fabulous idea and everyone’s on board and it’s not until you get to discussing details that people start going, “Whoa. You’re doing what?”
So let’s talk about explaining your Practical Wedding style to the uninitiated. (Yes, there are those who don’t read APW. Terrible, right?)
Your partner: Your partner already knows you well, so this one should be easy. However, don’t be surprised to find out that your wedding ideas may clash in unexpected ways. I’m going to assume you both have read our Ask Team Practical on getting started on wedding planning, and discussed what you want, yes? If so, you’re probably pretty much on the same page. But when faced with details that your partner wants and you don’t (it’s gonna happen), stop and think “Am I morally or philosophically opposed to this?” If yes, discuss with your partner and talk about why. If not, then think, “Do I not want this more than my partner wants it?” If yes, discuss some more and think of a compromise. If not, let it go. Seriously, it will not kill you to have an element in your wedding that you don’t love but your partner does. And remember, you picked them and that weird funky personal sense of style is now a part of your family; you don’t have to love it as much as you love them, but you have to accept it.
If it’s your weird funky sense of personal style that is giving your partner fits, explain to each other why you like/hate the particular element and why. Be specific; I know from experience that “Because it’s pretty,” or “I think that’s stupid,” are not productive phrases. Show each other pictures or drawings of what you’re talking about, or find examples of other couples who have done something similar. And if you can’t come to a decision, table it. A little time, and occasionally a change in mood or blood sugar, can help you come to a compromise that you can both live with.
Your family: Oh, families. If not for them, I wouldn’t get so many emails going, “Can we just friggin’ elope?!?” Talk to them about your Practical Wedding as you would your partner, but when faced with details you know they’ll scoff at, just don’t mention them. Your grandmother thinks your tattoos are your express pass into hell, so don’t mention the fact that you’re walking down the aisle to Apocalypitca’s version of One. Dad still mad about you going veggie in 1996? Forget to mention that the cake will be vegan. As Meg said in her own wedding grad post, “Keeping people on a need-to-know basis is fine sometimes. It’s not just that it’s easier to apologize than to ask permission, but that people will be so caught up in the joy of your wedding day that little things that might worry them before hand won’t bother them at all on the day of.” I’m not advocating hiding anything, but there are some fights with your family that you are going to have for the rest of your life. Why not save them for the holidays?
For the details that you can’t avoid talking about, make sure your family knows why you’re doing them. Don’t defend, just explain. And treat your family’s suggestions as respectfully as you’d like them to treat your choices; a simple, “That sounds really nice. I’ll think about it, but we’ve been considering ________,” works wonders.
Your friends: Talking to your friends can be done the same way you talk to your family, just with more cussing. But the contents of these conversations can vary depending on who your friends are. If they are interested in weddings, then by all means explain what WIC is and send them to APW to get their learn on! But make sure you’re having a back and forth conversation and respect the ideas they give you, too.
However, you’re also going to have friends who care deeply about you, they just don’t care that much about your wedding. They’re excited for you, but honestly they just want to know what to wear, what they’re eating and if you’ll have booze or not. And that’s fine, too. Be grateful for their presence and serve them good food. (On time.)
Your vendors: This one is easy because you choose your vendors. Don’t pick someone whose style or philosophy is not in line with yours; you will be miserable and so will they. If you have a vendor that you did not choose (one that comes with your venue, etc.), remember that they don’t have to agree, they just have to understand. Be specific, use pictures and be honest when something isn’t working for you. However, realize that if your wedding includes a lot of choices that are non-standard, you’re going to have to budget for that; WIC is so prevalent that it is often cheaper. You may not like tulle, roses or glitter, but it will probably be cheaper than antique lace, pink puya and biodegradable eco-confetti.
Strangers, co-workers and acquaintances: Like Emily did in her letter, leading by example is probably the best way to talk about your wedding. Don’t feel the need to defend yourself and your choices, but also try not to become the mirror-universe version of the WIC brides. A bride who pontificates on swarovski-encrusted twig centerpieces and only uses The Kn*t-approved vendors is annoying; a bride who beats people over the head with copies of Offbeat Bride and who quotes APW as gospel is just as bad. Be excited, but know that there is room in the world for all types; cheap wine haters AND cheap wine drinkers. It keeps life interesting.
And Yourself: One of APW’s tenets is “How you spend your money is more important than how much you spend. So put your wedding dollars into businesses that reflect your values, and stop judging yourself.” Attempt to have the wedding that best fits you and your partner, not any one style or philosophy. Listen to yourself and your partner more than anyone else. (Did I just tell you in an advice column to not listen to advice? I did. We’re deep like that.) No, you don’t need chair covers. Do you WANT chair covers? Then for God’s sake, have them. Yes, you are categorized as a bride, but you’re still you. Keep that in mind when planning to be Practical.
The flip-side to this is do not let listening to yourself become a cover for being a d*ck. Being true to your personal style does not include making your best friend, who’s neck-deep in student loans, pay for a bridesmaid dress that costs more than her rent. Having a reception with pork ribs and cheeseburgers when half your family keeps kosher is just being selfish. Find the balance, buy her dress and serve some chicken.
So there you have it. What say you, Team Practical? How did you go about explaining your Practical wedding to your friends, family, partner, etc?
If you would like to ask Team Practical a question please don’t be shy! You can email Alyssa at: askteampractical [at] apracticalwedding [dot] com. If you would prefer to not be named, anonymous questions are also accepted. Though we prefer if you make up a totally ridiculous sign-off like conflicted and rageful but deeply in love in Detroit (CARBDILID, duh). We’re not kidding. It brings us joy. What, you don’t want to bring your editors JOY?!?