Classic APW: Your Wedding Is Not A Show


by Meg Keene, Editor-In-Chief

I sat down earlier this week to write a post about how everyone should relax about personalizing their weddings (because, obviously, your wedding is already personalized, as I assume you intend to get married at it). But then I glanced back at this post I wrote more than two years ago, and I realized we had to run it again for all of you getting married this year. Your wedding is not a show. Your wedding, blessedly, is about more than just you.

Classic APW: Your Wedding Is Not A Show | A Practical Wedding

I’ve heard a lot of talk on APW about people’s fear of being the center of attention on their wedding day, and I thought we needed to chat. Because here is the thing: the whole wedding industry is built around this idea that the wedding is a SHOW, and you are the STAR(s). Which, of course is enough to make an introverted girl freak out. But more to the point, we’re so stuck in this idea of the wedding as a show that we put a huge amount of thought, energy, and stress into the idea of entertaining our guests.

But here is the thing: Your wedding is not a show.

Before we get into this, let me just state my biases up front. Both David and I have our degrees in theatre, and we co-produced several shows and a gala. And, for the record, I have never, since the beginning of time, been scared of being the center of attention. But. But. I did not feel like the center of attention on our wedding day, and it was wonderful.

Weddings are about two things, and we only ever talk about one. Weddings are about everyone gathering to celebrate and see two people make vows of lifetime commitment. But weddings are also about something else. They are about old friends and family getting together, sharing stories, catching up, hugging, laughing, talking, and making new friends, and creating new memories. The two of you are the reason why everyone is gathered together, but (blessedly) when a wedding goes right, it is about so much more than the two of you. The secret is that a happy wedding looks like this:Classic APW: Your Wedding Is Not A Show | A Practical WeddingOr like this: Classic APW: Your Wedding Is Not A Show | A Practical WeddingThe bride and groom are not the center of attention, but they are the reason.

So if your wedding is not a show, or a constant-entertainment-marathon, you don’t need to worry if your guests will be bored if you don’t provide *something to do* (croquet, board games, scavenger hunts, mixers, dancing, mad libs, god knows what). You don’t need to worry about finding a substitute for dancing if you don’t want to have dancing. (As David wisely weighs in, “There is no substitute for dancing. You either have it or you don’t. That’s it.”) Because this is what no one tells you: no matter what you provide for your guests to do (we provided dancing) many, many, many of them will want nothing more than to sit back, to talk, to laugh, to reminisce. I know our wedding was successful because we have pictures of old friends, hanging out, looking like this:

Classic APW: Your Wedding Is Not A Show | A Practical WeddingSo be showy if you want to (I understand showy). Provide entertainment if you want to (I understand entertainment), but remember, in the end if your guests decide what they really want to do is laugh, and drink, and tell tales? You’ve done your job. One day, in twenty years, the story they’ll be spinning will be the story of your wedding. And there will be laughter, and faraway looks, and maybe even a few happy tears of memory.

So don’t worry about being the center of attention. Because you’re not really. You’re just the center. And that will be enough.

Photos: Top three Lillian and Leonard, London Wedding Photographers (APW Sponsors), fourth of our wedding by One Love Photo

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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  • Rowan

    I was really worried that no one had a good time at my wedding because the barn the reception was in was about 100 degrees and no one (including me) wanted to dance. In fact the DJ left early because no one was dancing. While it was 100 degrees in the barn, it was perfectly pleasant outside. People sat around, someone started a bon fire, the venue provided smores. It wasn’t what I envisioned (everyone rocking out until the wee hours) but I’ve heard many times that it was one of the best weddings people have been to. So… it will be what it will be.

  • http://safarimama.blog.com Manya

    This is really true. There were friendships born at our wedding that we didn’t even know about, and these couples hang out with each other more than they hang out with us now! I love the idea that you may be the reason, but you do not have to be the star–but if you want to be the star, that’s ok too ;)

  • Jennifer

    I glad to read this post. My friend made me a little scared. He is a level headed guy, who plans on having a very small wedding and generally doesn’t buy the mass produced visions of weddings that we are fed. His brother just had a shot gun wedding, and I was excited to hear the details of the wedding because it sounded so small and romantic. I was taken aback when I heard him said “It wasn’t really a wedding, just a dinner really”

    I was floored. If my level headed friend didn’t think it was a wedding what was the world coming to?! I think sometimes people get too caught up in the reception and how it is a giant party. It is to serve the purpose to reflect and celebrate, not to see your aunt get hammered. We all get caught up in the roles we are suppose to play in a wedding, but see some twisted ideal.

  • Rebecca

    This post was bookmarked when I planned my wedding. ’nuff said.

  • carrie

    I was terrified of being the center of attention at our wedding, but there’s only one time that I remember thinking, “wow, I’m kinda up here for a long time” during my dance with my dad. It felt like a big old party where everyone was really, really nice to me, and in turn I loved every person there back like crazy. And it was pretty awesome.

    • meg

      “It felt like a big old party where everyone was really, really nice to me, and in turn I loved every person there back like crazy.”

      EXACTLY. I don’t know if I’ve ever heard my wedding summed up better. I was also really present, and really happy. And that was it (and enough).

  • http://penn.typepad.com Leah

    So, so true. For our wedding ceremony, we did an hour long church service. I know that normally makes people snooze, but I have had so many people tell me the service was lovely and excellent. And that’s because we did an actual service. There was liturgy and congregational vows. We had four hymns. We served communion to our guests as our first act, an act of service, as a married couple. Everyone was participating for the entire thing, so there was never a chance to sit around and get bored (no “special music” or anything resembling a stage show).

    We chose not to do dancing because our wedding was in winter with a one-big-room type venue. We had on quiet music, and we did get up and dance to part of one song for fun. Mostly, though, folks hung out and chatted. We had decks of cards and some board games, because those are big in my family. And guess who used them? My high school friends, my brothers and cousins, and that’s about it. Most everyone just talked, had some keg beer, and enjoyed the evening.

    My favorite part of the whole night was actually sitting at our sweetheart table, alone, just watching all the people I love interacting. I had time to sip my wine, and I actually ate my dinner. If that’s not being the center of attention, then I don’t know what is.

    • Jashshea

      This made me teary, a l’il bit, because it just sounded so dang lovely. I’ve never minded being the center of attention, but one of my favorite things about throwing parties or being the guest of honor is the quiet moments where you can look at your friends and family interacting and just be happy you brought that together.

      Sounds like the big difference here is being the center of the love, rather than the center of attention, huh?

      • Megan (from Nova Scotia)

        That sounds so beautiful *sniff* *sniff*

      • http://penn.typepad.com Leah

        yes, being the center of love is exactly what it felt like! Thank you so much for those words. Both the ceremony and reception was exactly like that. Yes, we sat up at the front of the church facing everyone (we did a lot of sitting during our long service, mostly to the side, for things like sermons and readings). But there were so many other things to pay attention to. I loved just soaking it all in.

    • meg

      Remembering to take time out to stand back and observe, and just burn it into your brain, is so important.

    • MDBethann

      You’re wedding sounds lovely and your service similar to ours – I loved our service. I sort of wanted to serve communion, but knew that I’d end up wearing the communion wine down my front that my dad (a pastor) assisted our pastor in serving communion. But it was a service and much of the time my DH and I were seated in the congregation instead of being up front on display, which was nice for our nerves and our feet!

      • http://penn.typepad.com Leah

        Ha, your comment about the wine cracks me up because that was my worry! I made my husband hold the goblet, and I held the bread. And I distinctly remembering occasionally flinching away as someone over-enthusiastically intincted (dipped their bread into the wine).

        Communion was really important to us for a variety of personal reasons, not the least of which is that my parents had agape (non-consecrated bread and wine, so no “host”) at their service. My Catholic mom married my Protestant dad, and I am a Protestant gal who married my Catholic husband. I’m glad we were able to serve, but I totally understand the fear behind choosing not to serve.

  • http://www.alainabos.com Alaina Bos

    I really enjoyed this post. At the end of the day, the only important thing is that the people you love were there and they had a good time. I stressed out majorly over planning my wedding and when it was all said and done, 3 years later, people are still telling me it was the most FUN they ever had at a wedding. It wasn’t because of the details (but I do love me some details:) ) and food but rather, the people who were there to make it the party it was :)

  • http://www.jandrfoods.com Rachel

    I f’ing love this post this so much. It should be on the front page of every damn bridal blog out there as “you must read this before proceeding”. I wish I had found this one when I was planning but instead I will include it with the APW book when I give it as a gift.

    • meg

      I’m actually not sure why it wasn’t in the book (or something like it). I found it, and was like OVERSIGHT! OOPS!

  • http://twitter.com/itsradishtime Taylor

    Thank you for assuaging my most paralyzing fear about the wedding.

    But tell me, friends, does the same apply for pre-wedding events like engagement parties and bridal showers? My future mother-in-law wants to throw these events for us/me respectively and I worry because:
    A.that whole center of attention thing. Meeting people is scary!
    B. my family just doesn’t do engagement parties and showers. and I fear that if I have them, my family will think I think I’m *so special*, that I WANT to be the center of attention. which I do not.

    • kathleen

      Taylor– I took the advice in the comments of the shower section of the post a few weeks back and had everyone tell the story of how they met as I opened their present at my shower this last weekend. It worked exactly like a dream– everyone ended up talking and telling stories with each other, and EVERY person’s comment about the night was some version “you have the best/funniest/most interesting friends!” the spotlight was off me, and I just got to watch my friends fall in love with each other. It was easily one of the best night’s of my life.

    • meg

      Yes! Go back to the tips in the shower post. Because showers do tend to end with you as the center of attention (which frankly, can be painful as a super extrovert) unless you have tips up your sleeve.

  • katiebgood

    This is why the weddings with the music that’s doing its best to completely drown out all conversation drives me up a wall (usually, looking for places to escape the damn music so I don’t end the day with an aching head). I can’t count the weddings where I’ve spent considerable amounts of time hiding in hallways or outside, alone or now with my fiancé, because the music was screaming around the whole room, not just the dance floor, and was cranked up all night, not just on the fast numbers. I would love to spend more weddings actually with my friends.

    • ElisabethJoanne

      Meg wants to be served food on time. My dad wants to be able to have several conversations, and not have to yell over music.

    • http://highdivingboard.wordpress.com Morgan

      I think I have spent most weddings sitting outside in the hall talking to people. Sure, I enjoy a bit of dancing, but I love the talking and catching up so much more. I may be an Old.

    • http://unexpected-moments.blogspot.ca/ Sheryl

      The last big dance party style wedding I was at had the crazy loud music. We all dealt with it by dancing then sneaking outside to cool off and converse. I think the trick when it’s loud is to figure out where all the other people escaping the sound have gone (because there will be others!) and go there.

  • Megan (from Nova Scotia)

    Ah Meg, y’all did it again. I had a lovely little argument with my mother last night about the wedding. Apparently balloons hanging from the ceiling, and wanting pie instead of cake is making the wedding ‘gimmicky’ Then I started to doubt myself, and think ‘Am I trying to turn this into a show?’ This post has helped remind me of what I’ve believed all along. And wanting things to be lovely and charming without being showy is alright, and that people will enjoy themselves as long as they enjoy time with friends and family. So thanks, I feel better about our plan all over again.

    • http://minnesota-chic.com PA

      Shpf, “gimmicky.” That sounds lovely! The only reason we’re having macarons and cupcakes instead of raspberry pie (a huge favorite), is that I know the first thing I would do would be to spill pie filling down my front.

      • Megan (from Nova Scotia)

        Thanks! I told the very lovely lady at the venue/catering company that we sort of wanted pie, and she goes ‘we can do miniature pies, that’s easy!’. It is possible that I will love that woman by the spring.

        • Ambi

          Can I please come to your wedding?! Miniature pies and balloons and a bride who is willing to stand up for the type of wedding she wants . . . sounds fabulous!

    • Halle

      I think balloons are awesome! There are so many beautiful colors and they are instant happy-making! We are also having pie. Go with your gut :)

    • Carrie

      Gimmicky?! Since when are balloons gimmicky? Aren’t balloons, like, normal party decorations?

      And pie is delicious. If you want to eat pie at your wedding, go for it. It’s not about showing off, it’s about delicious delicious pie.

      • Megan (from Nova Scotia)

        Ooops on the inadvertant thread-jacking, but you all made me feel so much better :)

    • http://penn.typepad.com Leah

      Pie sounds awesome! My husband really wanted pie, but the cost of cupcakes worked out better for us. I don’t find pie gimmicky at all. If anything, that sounds more traditional than cake — reminds me of the church social hall picnic.

  • http://wedinlondon.com/ Ciara

    Brilliant post. I’m so glad you’ve revived it again. It really is important for brides (me included) to take a step back and remember the purpose of a wedding day and what really matters. The most important people in our lives are gathering to celebrate a very special moment and in that we should be celebrating those family members and friends too. Its not just about the two of us, its about everyone in that room!

  • kara

    Thank you so much for this post! My wedding is in two months and the panic had officially set in that 150 pairs eyes would be staring at me all day. This should have been in your book! I started out wedding planning with the mindset that it’s not about me, it’s about us, our friends, & family. Then as the day gets closer I’ve come to believe that everyone will be staring at me. I’ve just got to get back to that original mindset.

    • meg

      I know. I’m not quite sure how it wasn’t in the book. I mean, the idea was woven through, since it’s part of my philosophy, but I didn’t steal this to use in a more obvious way. Whoopsy. Second edition ;)

      • Meagan

        I’m with you Kara. I’m getting married next month and have started to get some serious anxiety when I think about the wedding day. This was exactly what I needed to read and have a feeling I’ll be re-reading it a bunch over the next few weeks. I mean all of our guests will have a weekend down the beach and why should I be anxious all morning while all the guests are enjoying everyone’s company and sipping cocktails by the pool (which is exactly why we chose this type of wedding in the first place)! Thank you!

  • efletch

    I needed to read this, I have been so worried that people will be bored, too hot, too cold etc…thank you thank you, thank you!

  • kathleen

    I think this is easily the most overlooked part of wedding planning, probably because you CAN’T plan it. It works so well with Monday’s post about being a good guest— it’s not the twinkle lights or music or even (gasp! this is wedding heresy) the food that makes the experience fun and memorable as a guest– it’s getting to see family and friends and meet the other lovely and fun family and friends of the bride and groom. The experience is the people, not the details. Have fun, welcoming, interesting friends and loved ones? Your wedding is going to be awesome. Have fun, welcoming, interesting friends and loved ones, and are you madly, wildly in love and excited about getting married?? Your wedding is going to be the MOST awesome.

    • kathleen

      PS- this is a self pep talk, as well as an APW pep talk. like, A LOT.

    • meg

      The thing is, you know when you go to a wedding you’re probably going to spend five minutes with the couple, tops (they have a lot of people to see). So you go, celebrate them, and then are really excited to see/ meet everyone else, and just hang out. We know this as a guest, and forget it when it’s our wedding. And it’s a great thing.

  • Ambi

    First of all, this is one of my all time favorite posts, and just yesterday I started to go back through the APW archives and reread old stuff, so I am SO happy you are reposting it! I hope this continues with other classic APW posts!

    Also, I am really surprised by how differently I feel about this now than I did when it first ran. While I still agree that it is great advice, and I am 10000% on board with the idea that you don’t have to provide a show or entertainment for your guests, I am now on the fence about about whether the wedding couple is the center of attention. I agree that they are the reason for the event, and that guests will absolutely socialize with each other and enjoy aspects of the evening that have nothing to do with the couple . . . but I just can’t agree that you won’t be the center of attention because in my experience they are the center of attention, but in a good way. In the sense that everyone is full of joy for them, is thinking about how happy they are for the couple, can’t tear their eyes off the beautiful bride because she just looks so damn happy and it is melting your heart, etc. – I don’t think it is “center of attention” in the sense that would create any expectation that the couple somehow perform or entertain. But I do think that the couple really is at the forefront of most guests’ minds throughout the event, and I kind of think that is how it should be. I want them to enjoy the food and the wine and have a good time dancing, but I’m not just throwing a party. Kind of along the lines of the community aspect of weddings that we discussed the other day, their presence there is important because of what their love and support means to us as we take this huge step. So I think it is totally fitting that they be thinking about us and looking at us all night – but when I remind myself to think of it in that way, I no longer have the same anxiety about performing.

    Finally, the desire not to make my wedding a show is why I personally have chosen not to have a videographer. I do want photos, but I would much prefer to burn my memories of the event into my brain and remember them in that way than to see it from the view of a camera lens projected onto a screen – to me, somehow, that makes it seem more like a show, and I just know that personally I will be critical of myself and of the event if I watched a video of it. So I’m choosing not to take a video, and I’m hoping it will help me remember to think of my wedding as an experience rather than a show.

    Love you, APW. Seriously. This stuff is why you are the absolute best resource for wedding planning (and life planning) that exists anywhere.

    • Kristi

      I’m with you on the videographer. Everyone I talk to pushes for this, but I feel the exact same way. We are also doing photos. I love to look though pictures and I think it’s important to have for our children. (I love to look through my families old photos!) But I would also rather have the memories of the actual moment than to remember what happened by watching the video. Plus, its an extra expense and vendor that we don’t have to worry about! ;)

      • http://twitter.com/itsradishtime Taylor

        Hmm. I have to disagree with you guys on the videographer>show thing. I mean, I don’t think hiring a videographer turns ones whole wedding into a performance. It makes it no less or an experience, I would venture to guess.

        I mean, take the royal wedding last year. The whole thing was televised. In fact, you could argue that the entire *lives*, not just the weddings, of the royal family are a show. But (not knowing the couple) I still would not doubt that something real and special and profound happened for them that day. To us, it was a show. To them, it was an experience.

        Now, the argument that going back and watching the video would make you less present in your future life and remember the wedding in a different way than it felt the day of is a different argument, but one could say the same for photos.

        If you don’t want something, *of course* skip it. But the truth of it is, that no amount of photographers or videographers or ice sculptures or pinwheels or golden swans can scrub the love and connection out of a wedding. Under all that fuss and foofaraw we are human, after all, sharing a deeply human experience that documenting, in whatever fashion, cannot take away.

        • Ambi

          Hey Taylor, I totally respect your right to disagree, and I encourage anyone who wants to have a videographer (or maybe a cousin with an iPhone) record footage of their wedding to by all means go ahead and do it. I didn’t mean that as any kind of warning or anything. I just know myself and I know that, for me, having things filmed changes things. I know we will still have photos and those are very similar, but for me, there is a difference. I do think that I would be in a slightly different mental space all night if I knew I was being filmed, but that may have a lot to do with the fact that I am just generally squeamish about being on camera, and I have had some really terrible experiences seeing myself on a video and realizing that my internal mental image of what I look like and sound like is extremely far from what the video captures. Photos just don’t pose the same problems for me, at least not to the same extent. And I know that photos can be edited and cropped and turned to black and white, and truth be told, I can just toss the ones where I am making a face or eating or adjusting my bra or whatever. Video isn’t nearly so forgiving. So just for me, and my own personal issues, I am safeguarding my sanity on my wedding day by eliminating something that gives me anxiety and makes me feel like I have to perform. It may not make perfect sense, but that is how I feel.

          And I really do believe that, if I were to watch a video of my wedding, it would change the way I remembered the event. This has happened to me before in other contexts, and I would just prefer not to have that issue regarding my wedding.

          So, in the end it really is just a personal choice. But for me it is one that does relate to the topic of the day – your wedding is not a show – because I am evidently a crazy person who feels the need to perform and be perfect when a video camera is on me.

          • Alexandra

            My reasons for not wanting a videographer are similar to yours, actually. I simply don’t think I film very well, and I TRULY HATE the sound of my voice when it’s recorded. It was actually a post on Offbeat Bride that helped me realize that, you know, just because it’s my wedding, doesn’t mean I’ll magically become someone I’m not on film. And then I stopped thinking about it. My own memory of how it goes will and photographs where I can throw out the dumb faces will probably be more than enough to remember the event by.

          • http://twitter.com/itsradishtime Taylor

            Ambi and Alexandra–

            I think it sounds like all three of us have the key to having a non-showy beautiful experience of a wedding: Knowing ourselves.

            I am the opposite of you guys: I am very comfortable being on video (I make youtube videos regularly) but I cannot stand to look at photographs of myself (not photogenic) so to me, remembering the day authentically relies on video. to both of you, photographs are more representative of who you are. And so all of us are being true to ourselves. Awesome. High fives all around

  • http://theblogwhisperer.tumblr.com HeatherG

    Exactly. If you’re on stage, so to speak, then nobody in the audience would have the opportunity to catch up and/or get to know others (kind of like going to a movie). I took great pride in those moments I looked around and saw a dear friend talking to one of my closest relatives or my family interacting with my husbands family. We did not orchestrate that, but certainly not having a “show” helped facilitate it.

  • Angie B.

    Oh my, this post. Just, yes. After a long time agonizing (seriously, I’ve been engaged for 18 months) I finally realized what kind of wedding will be right for us. And this post so perfectly explains it.

    I am most definitely not a lover of the lime light, so a “traditional” reception is just not for me. When I host people for dinner, I don’t like to entertain people, I like to gather people. Then we can all chat, catch up, tell stories and laugh over good food and good drinks. So we’ve decided to do the same for our post-ceremony celebration.

    We’ll invite all the people we love most in the world to gather with us at a lovely restaurant where we can all celebrate over good food and good drinks, chat, catch up, tell stories and laugh. And if there’s spontaneous dancing from our friends that like to do that, then that will be great too!

  • http://turningtoward.blogspot.com Kara Haberstock

    This is such a good reminder- thank you for running it again. I hope to have plenty of wedding photos of this sort six months from now. Our wedding day really isn’t all about us- it’s about the community that is surrounding and supporting us as we publicly declare our commitment to love each other. And that makes little introverted me pretty dang happy. Because our community is pretty dang awesome.

  • Darcy

    This! I can’t even begin to count how many times I overheard someone say “Oh, you’re THAT aunt I’ve heard all the stories about…” I also can’t even begin to describe the warm fuzzies it gave me.

  • Kristi

    THIS. I wish I could exactly this a hundred times. and, I’m tearing up again.

    I literally melted down for the first time since being engaged, last night, while looking up wooden utensils (because I refuse to pay $.50 to rent a fork) and realized I never even thought about coffee. Would my guests be upset if there was no coffee with the cake?? and then my FH asked who was serving the cake and I melted down into a puddle because I can’t deal with caring about utensils, and coffee, and cake service and how everyone is going to be looking at me as I walk down the aisle, and the pressure of having such a DIY wedding venue. I’m freaking out, and there’s still a year to go.

    What bothers me most is that this is NOT WHO I AM. I’m usually carefree, laid back and organized. Why can’t I get it together??

    I bookmarked this (and immediately emailed it to my FH) so that I can read it on the reg. I hope that the way I feel right now, remains. It really is about everyone being together. I can’t thank you enough APW. Keep it coming.

    • ElisabethJoanne

      You totally don’t need to figure out cake service a year in advance.

      But you do need to figure it out at some point, and you probably don’t care, but it’s your wedding, so you have to decide, and it’s tough. APW helps.

      • meg

        Just wait till the last minute. By then you REALLY won’t give a shit, and you’ll just make a split second decision. Seriously. Use this tool on all small decisions.

        • ElisabethJoanne

          My plan is actually to be unreachable, out-of-state, in trial the 4 weeks right before my wedding. I can “work out all details with vendors” before that. If I can’t, it’s ’cause someone else dropped the ball, and they’ll have to fix it without me. I’ve got a small business to save!

          Or that was my plan. The trial’s getting kicked to right after my honeymoon, and I’m bummed I’ll have to “deal with last minute problems.” I’m thinking of not telling anyone the trial has been kicked.

          • http://penn.typepad.com Leah

            Go take a little vacation! Seriously! I was in town the week before our wedding, but I left for the week before that (went home for Christmas). My husband did some last minute errands, like dropping off final deposits, checks, the cake contract, etc (we live in a small town — we didn’t need too much advance notice on this kind of stuff). I think he maybe took one trip to Ikea to buy some candles. It was great for him to be involved, and I had a wonderful time at home not worrying about wedding stuff.

            When I got back to town, I had two days before our family all came into town. I was determined to spend lots of time with extended relatives, so I just hustled those two days and let everything undone go.

    • Ambi

      Kristi, first, congratulations – you’re getting married!!!! Welcome to APW, and please do not hesitate to lean on this community for support throughout the planning process- lord knows we all do! You’ve definitely come to the right place for calm, sane, sensible advice.

      Maybe you are already past this point, I can’t tell – but I would suggest working from big stuff to smaller stuff – so figure out your general guest list number and pick a venue and decide what kind of wedding you want to have (brunch reception with cake and punch or evening cocktail party or barn-burner with a crazy dance band, for example). Once you have some of that bigger stuff in place, the smaller details will be easier to solve. Read up on the archives of this blog for help, and when you get stumped, please keep asking all the great APW readers for input. You’ll get a lot more realistic and honest responses here than you will at some of the WIC blogs – we’re never going to tell you that you absolutely have to rent forks or even have cake for that matter.

      Of course, I am just in the super early stages of planning myself (actually, all we are actively doing is ring shopping at this point), but this is what I have gathered from this blog and from helping with other weddings.

      Good Luck. Melt downs are totally normal and you don’t need to feel bad about stressing out, but at the same time, you absolutely have permission to take a big deep breath and just walk away from this whole cake-cutting problem for several months. There is no need to worry about it now.

    • Teresa

      Dude! Deep breath! 1) maybe people will care if you don’t have coffee, but they are adults and will deal with not having coffee if it stresses you out to think about it. And if someone makes a comment, you can direct them to the near by dunkin donuts! 2) I went to a wedding where the couple started serving the cake–it wasn’t a traditional tiered cake, so it wasn’t complicated and it gave everyone the chance to chat with the couple a bit! You’ll figure that out, you have plenty of time! Let me know if you need another Starbucks date in which you freak out about stuff!

      • Kristi

        Thanks guys!! I’m really excited to just be married. I know I don’t need to think about any of this stuff right now. Which is why I couldn’t believe how I melted down so easily over something so stupid. Honestly, I don’t remember why I was even on the internet to begin with. The underlying fact is that I’m naturally a worrier and hate being in the spotlight. (hence no videographer–the LAST thing I personally need is another camera in my face and worrying about what i’m going to look like in the future on tape–NOTHING against people who have them.) This is why I was thrilled for this post, the timing was undeniably perfect.

        Ambi–Thanks for the kind words and the advice! You’re so sweet. Yes, right after I got engaged in May, my friend immediately told me about the book and I ordered it that day. Once it came, I read it cover to cover in three days (I have a long commute from Queens to NJ!) Everything I read, I was like Yes! Yes! OMGOSH Yes! Since then I’ve been reading the site and going back to the archives a bit, but I haven’t started commenting until recently. It’s so nice to talk to people going through the same things as I am. You guys sure are awesome. :)

        Meg–First of all, Thank you for everything. Secondly, waiting until the last minute is SO HARD for me. I’m such a planner. But I’m totally going to give this a try for the things I really could care less about…like utensils and shit. ;)

        • Alexandra

          Have you considered getting a wedding planner if there’s any room in the budget for one? I know not all budgets can fit a planner, though the one I hired advertises being a budget planner, and informed me she believed her services (and inside contacts) would save enough in other places to afford her fee. Or maybe you have friends or family who can help.

          The reason I ask though is because if you’re that worried a year away about who will serve the cake… Well, that becomes the planner’s job. So does getting coffee. And utensils, and remembering to put salt and pepper shakers on a table and all this little stuff. And then it gives you permission to just… relax, and not sweat the little stuff. Like the price of utensils. Especially if it’s exceptionally DIY.

          But even if you can’t find a planner, I’m sure you’ll work it all out in time. It’s a year away, you’ve got a world of time.

          • Kristi

            There’s barely room in the budget for the wedding itself, let alone a planner. But i’m sure I’ll have more than enough help. I like the idea of having community involvement from my family and friends anyhow.

            I think I’ve given off the wrong impression here. I had the melt down, because of many factors–the general overwhelmingness of it all, the fact that my mom has passed and I don’t have her to confide in, I’m starting Grad school in less than a month and work full time, etc, etc.. The cake service and coffee and all that, just happened to be on my mind at the time. I’m not really worried about it. I know it will be taken care of some way or another. I’m mostly just weirded out by how out of character I reacted.

          • Ambi

            Kristi, I am so sorry about your mom, and it is really understandable that you had a melt-down, given everything you have going on right now. I don’t want to minimize the work that will be necessary to plan the wedding, but I think you may need to give yourself a couple of months to just be engaged, start grad school, and deal with your emotions about going through this event without your mom. I know this may sound extreme, but I am a HUGE fan of counseling, so it may be really helpful and worth it for you to go see someone – maybe just one or two sessions – to work through those difficult emotions. If it gives you tools to get through the rest of the year (and your wedding day) without having your sadness about your mom overshadow your happiness at getting married, I would say that’s worth it.

            Don’t fret about the wedding planner – they can be great, but you will also be just fine on your own. And, truth be told, if you are an organized type-A planner person like me, you’d already be micromanaging everything anyway, so there is really no need to pay someone else to do it. I can’t encourage you enough to read everything you possibly can on this blog – I think it will give you so many great ideas, inspiration, tips, etc. – probably many more than any wedding planner could give you.

            So, here’s my humble suggestion: Give yourself 6 weeks off (at least). Talk to someone to work through your feelings about your mom (whether that someone is a professional or maybe just your fiance). If you get the urge to wedding plan, use that energy to read this blog and go back through the archives. Make notes, print out pictures, create a computer folder of inspiration, whatever – just keep in mind that it is all brainstorming, and you don’t have to have anything figured out yet. By the end of that 6 weeks, I think you’ll be less stressed and will have formed a pretty good idea of what you want. Then use the tools you’ve learned from APW, and plan the kind of wedding that is right for you. Take Meg’s advice. It is SO okay not to care about certain things. And it really will all work out in the end.

            By the way, people can serve themselves cake. They do it all the time at home.

        • ElisabethJoanne

          If you’re an over-achiever, planner sort, it can be hard to be asked a question you don’t know the answer to. It never happened in school! I got really anxious when photographers asked for our day-of schedule a year before the wedding. All the planning guides said I didn’t need to do that until 3 months before! Now I was already behind and disappointing people!

          Eventually, I realized two sides of the same coin: 1) I’m the customer here, and I don’t need to fit the vendors’ timeline or mold. 2) I needed to find vendors that let me be the customer, instead of imposing “what we usually do…” and “most brides…” on me.

    • KateM

      I had a good friend who was as organized, maybe more so, than I was and I turned small stuff like that over to her. I gave her a dollar amount, and she took care of it for me. If you have a person like this, use them please! She loved every second of it, and it made my life so much easier know it would be handled in a practical way.
      And give yourself a free pass on being emotional, it probably won’t be your last melt down and that is ok. Weddings are big emotions about every aspect of your life, it is ok to let that emotion out occasionally. We had a year and a half engagement, and the beginning was overwhelming. And then I decided that I was not going to spend a year and a half of my life being focused on our wedding. I wanted to enjoy that engagement, go on dates, be silly and romantic. Make time for the romance, it puts it all back into perspective why you want to get married in the first place, and puts those forks in their place.

  • CAMinSD

    I remember reading this the first time (I was still a year and a half from being engaged back then) and thinking, “Oh, thank god.” Now it’s t-minus-two-months to the wedding so this is a timely resurrection for me. :)

  • SARAHTERESA

    Love this post! It’s such a good reminder of why weddings are beautiful. It’s not the dress or the flowers or the (DIY) decorations. It’s the beauty of two people committing to love each other for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health. To love someone when they are unlovely, broken, broke, and have them do the same. To bind yourself to another person no matter what happens to them or you or the world is so foolhardy and brave and beautiful that it makes people cry. And that moment is the star of the wedding show, no matter how simple or elaborate.

    My favorite wedding ever was my nephew’s, where guests didn’t comment on the couple’s personal style, just the couple, and how in love they seemed. The two families did not have a lot of money, so the reception was in a VFW hall with simple centerpieces as the only decoration. The bride’s family made a spaghetti dinner and brought it to the hall potluck style, serving it themselves. Whenever I get overwhelmed with wedding details, I think of how special it felt when the bride’s mother and aunts served me spaghetti they had made themselves, loading me up with warm rolls and huge smiles. The best moment of the night was when my very tall (6’7″) nephew literally got on his knees to dance with the bride’s tiny grandmother! It was such a sweet time, and I hope the wedding I am planning for next spring will feel just like it.

  • LaneyTiggy

    I needed this so much. Am three months away from a wedding I don’t want and feeling the pressure. I will be bookmarking this page and rereading weekly! Thank you

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