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The Pressure to Be Practical


The funny thing about this post is that I could have written it, pretty much verbatim. The part about buying wedding magazines and reading them on the train without being engaged (or, uh, dating anyone)? Me. I read wedding blogs from, well, about the moment they started, which was about a year before I got engaged. I love weddings, you guys. That’s part of why I do this job. So while I started APW out of pure rage at the out of control wedding industry, I spent my wedding planning trying to balance just flat out loving weddings with difficult emotional realities and my desire to stay sane. (Plus, I did that kind of publicly. Fun.) So this post from Katie is for all of you that have ever felt guilty for really being excited about your flowers, or your decorations, or your dress. Embracing that sh*t is just fine.The Pressure to Be Practical | A Practical Wedding

I started reading APW before I got engaged, back when I was feeling the craziness of the pre-engaged state. I was so glad to find a place where everyone talked about the real, nitty-gritty details of a) having a wedding and b) being married—because, as we all know (or should know), these are two very different, separate things.

And I’m looking forward to being married, although I know I don’t need a wedding. Frankly, I would marry my guy in a dress made of Trader Joe’s bags in the middle of the sidewalk on a Tuesday afternoon. He is the smartest, honest, weirdest guy I know, with great hair and very sexy eyebrows. He gives me cookies and kisses on demand, and he never fights me for the television (unless the Olympics or the World Series is on). He makes me give back the extra five dollars that the Starbucks barista mistakenly hands over with my change. He can play the Dukes of Hazard theme on the banjo. So, yeah, I would be willing to just sign my name to the city wedding register and be done with it, if that was what he wanted.

And yet.

I love weddings. I love everything about them. When other single girls groan before the bouquet toss, I’m the first one in line. Though I haven’t been planning my wedding since I was a little girl, it’s been pretty close. Over the years, I’ve planned multiple weddings in my head, each one fun and unique and a kick ass time.

I also developed a habit of hoarding wedding magazines. I would find excuses to buy them, usually while in New York while I was traveling for work. Alone and waiting for my train, I would inevitably find myself wandering into Hudson News and ever-so-casually strolling over to the magazine section. I’d furtively scan the racks for Brides or Real Simple Weddings and snatch them up when no one was looking, like a teenage boy swiping the latest Penthouse or Playboy. My stock answer was always ready when the salesperson ringing up my purchase would ask when the wedding was (“Oh, we haven’t set a date yet”—which, seeing as how I wasn’t engaged yet, this was true!). Then I’d gorge myself on the glossy pages for the entire train ride home and bury them in a plastic tub in the closet before my boyfriend got home, hiding them underneath college photos and my seventh grade journal.

I tried to keep this all under wraps because, frankly, I thought it would be seen as kind of sad because I wasn’t engaged yet. I didn’t want to freak my boyfriend out and make him think that I was going to start leaving cutouts of engagement rings on the bathroom mirror as a “Hint, HINT!” I know so many friends who were soured by the wedding process, who complained about fights with their mothers and too many opinions on seating arrangements. Deep down, I know that weddings are expensive, archaic, stressful, and, when you boil it down, crazy. It isn’t practical to love something like that—but I love them, nonetheless.

Then I got engaged. Finally, I could be free about my addiction to stationery! I could discuss the finer points of Alcenon lace with ease! People would understand because, hey, I’m ENGAGED and, all of the sudden, it’s ALLOWED!

But it isn’t. I’ve actually found out that being officially engaged hasn’t been all that freeing because I still feel judged for enjoying wedding planning. The other day, someone asked me what kind of wedding favors we were thinking of having. I could feel my face light up as I started excitedly explaining that I saw this great APW post by Madeleine about giving away used books as favors.

And just as I was explaining how we could use them as centerpieces for the tables—that’s when I saw it. The judgment. That smug look in the other person’s eyes that said, “Wow, it is so pathetic that you’re so into this.” That I shouldn’t be talking so much about a wedding favor—that it was so small and it was something that didn’t really matter.

So I yanked on the conversation reins and stuttered, “But that’s complicated…so maybe cookies…or something.” And abruptly changed the topic. (And, lest you think that I am the ultimate unreliable narrator, I have to say that I’ve seen that look on someone’s face before when other weddings come up. And on my face when people talk about fantasy football.)

It was then that I realized that maybe the social pendulum has swung the other way—whereas once it was socially acceptable to talk about your wedding, there’s now a pressure out there to not be excited about your wedding. That it’s just not practical—or feminist—to be excited about colors and lights and details. That if you do care, then you must be shallow, sexist, financially frivolous, and one hot glue gun away from the B-word.

So, I am trying to find a middle ground here—where I can be practical, but also feel okay about loving the wedding planning process. Where I’m not betraying the sisterhood by spending hours designing our wedding invitations. Where I can feel zen about spending a whole lot of money on our wedding without putting us in debt or feeling like it’s a giant waste of cash. And where I can feel all right about talking about our wedding without feeling judged.

In the end, I think that I’m getting there. The other night, I stopped at a bookstore on my way home to buy something to read and ended up getting three bridal magazines. I knew that my guy was going to be out for the evening, so I pulled out my “stash,” and reveled in the prettiness for an hour or two.

Then I heard his key in the lock—and panicked. “Oh my God,” I thought, “he’s going to see my wedding porn! He’s going to think I’m crazy!” I threw a blanket over the stack of magazines and tried to act casual as he came into the living room.

Immediately, he noticed the fleece-covered lump on the couch and asked, “What’s that?” As I sheepishly drew back the blanket, about twenty wedding magazines spilled onto the floor and he burst out laughing.

Red-faced, I was all ready to apologize for my creepy obsession. But he surprised me. Instead of rolling his eyes or quipping about killing trees, he gave me a kiss and said, “I’m glad that you’re excited.”

As I watched him head into the kitchen to make dinner, I thought to myself, “You know what? I’m glad that I’m excited, too.”

Photo by: Christina Richards (APW Sponsor)

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  • http://www.madeinmorningside.blogspot.com Ashleigh

    Thank you!! This is awesome and it all sounds so familiar it could have been written by me!! Including the hidden magazine stash :-) xox

  • Laura

    Thanks for this post. I’ve been feeling this a lot lately and I find it hard to strike a balance. On one hand, I think the WIC is absolutely crazy and over the top. I love reading wedding magazine advice aloud to my friends in an overly dramatic voice: “You MUST hire a CALLIGRAPHER to do your INVITATIONS! Make sure you incorporate your THEME into ALL ASPECTS of your wedding or else you are a HORRIBLE PERSON!”

    Now, I’m not knocking calligraphers. Or themes. Just saying that it’s ridiculous that the WIC gives you this crazy script about how to be the Perfect Bride, assuming that you’ll suddenly morph into this super crafty and artistically savvy person who will just know how to get every detail perfect. Never forgetting, of course, that you must buy All The Things. I try to disengage from all that.

    On the other hand, my wedding a very special occasion, which makes me willing to put in effort I don’t normally bother with in my everyday life. Sometimes, when I get excited about something like wedding favours or alternate guestbooks, I ask myself, “Am I just buying into all the hype? Am I going over the top?” But then I realize that as long as I am really excited about it, and as long I’m staying in our budget (of both money and time) then it’s fine. In fact, it’s great.

    • Corrie

      I like this idea of a time ‘budget.’ I think this is where I will have the most problems because I’m always the first to say, “Oh, I’ll just make that!”…which then so sneakily turns into DIY-ing all the free hours of my life away before I even realize what happened. So, yes. Time budget.

      • Laura

        Yeah. I’m a grad student, so as much as I love the idea of DIYing everything, it’s not going to happen. I have given myself the entire semester to bead my veil, which is a realistic time frame I think.

      • Laura

        Oooooh! Also, timely post on this over at Offbeat Bride: http://offbeatbride.com/2012/09/should-you-diy

    • Amelie

      @Laura, how are you beading your own wedding veil?! I was just thinking of doing that. Are there tutorials out there?

      • Laura

        There are some tutorials but honestly I didn’t find many of them that useful. My mom taught me how to do it. It’s going to be a pretty simple veil though. I might be able to show you over Skype or something!

      • http://www.weddingfortwo.blogspot.com Ellie

        I hand beaded mine – there is a tutorial on my blog – or you can email me at ellie db at gmail dot com if you want more info. I’ve done three now and it’s pretty easy.

    • KB

      Exactly! Like, I couldn’t give a crap about what I “should” be doing by WIC-standards – but just because I’m SUPER excited about favors or my dress doesn’t mean that I’m crazy or frivolous. It means that I am really looking forward to getting married and expressing that joy through fun/crafty/pretty things. Truth be told, if I wasn’t excited about the wedding, I’d be “meh” on everything because none of it would MEAN anything to me. But no doubt, there are people out there who aren’t excited about any of the “little” things and that doesn’t mean that they’re not excited about the wedding. Bottom line – judgment sucks.

    • Jashshea

      Time budget is pure genius. Something that I’ve found to be true for everything related to the wedding – it always takes longer than you thought it would, usually by an order of magnitude.

      Example – I needed a permit to serve liquor. I need to fill out a form and send a check, or so I thought until I sat down to actually do just that. I needed a notarized form, a certified check and a criminal records check. A $50 permit ended up costing about $15 for the notary, $35 for the records check and about 5 hours of extra time, some spent at the courthouse.

      • Laura

        Totally! I am so paranoid about something unexpected cropping up that we have been doing everything ridiculously early.

  • http://minnesota-chic.com PA

    Revel in it! Make your favors that are also centerpieces, because I am picturing some sort of wedding-themed transformers thing going on with books, and it sounds awesome! And stick your tongue out at people who are judging you for it, because pfffft. (That is my very mature response.)

    That person judging you for the centerpieces reminds me of the cool kids in high school who thought it was best to be bored by everything. “Whatever, who cares.” My life improved when I realized that I didn’t want to be that way–I like getting excited about things! If I allow myself to be happy about things, then my life is just far, far better.

    And please post a wordless wedding! Please?

    • Class of 1980

      I’ve always thought there was more to loving wedding details than meets the eye. Wedding details are the trappings of something a lot of people want – a lifetime partner, love, and a family. I think there is an emotional pull toward the details surrounding all that.

      Pretty dresses and flowers and decorations exist outside of weddings, but the meaning is different.

      I also think the obsession with homes and interior design is often really about the life the person hopes to live inside the house.

    • Gytha

      There’s a really amazing essay by the late David Foster Wallace about this obsession with being too cool to care, called E Unibus Pluram. It talks about how sometimes irony and skepticism are about feeling clever and individualistic, but really they often result in tearing things down without building anything of worth. Enthusiasm is constructive and passionate – embrace it!

  • Ceebee

    Such a keeper, both of you are. As I read this, I just see the scenes -the train, the newstand, the couch- play out and you both seem so cute in my head.

  • Jennifer

    Funny you mention this. Everyone has this weird view on weddings and how excited (not excited) you should be. My future mother in law is very odd with her reactions to my wedding plans. Like she wants me to hire two photographers to get two angles of everything, which sounds like too much work for me. But when I suggest making some decorations she doesn’t hesitate to criticize me for being too ambitious. A lot of the time it is just people giving their two cents of what they think is important but it is just THEIR opinion about what is important to them.

    Oh and I got a lot of scary stares for my used books as a favor idea too. My sister/bridesmaid spent a lot of time trying to convince me to give my center pieces as favors instead.

    • Taylor B

      YES! Why is the solution paying more people to do more things that I don’t want, but when I want to do something on my own it’s “taking on too much.” ??? Argh!

      My fiance has really stepped up lately explaining to friends and family that making things ourselves is an important and meaningful piece of the process for us. It’s frustrating that his being in agreement with me validates this, but it works like a charm, until the subject comes up in a conversation without him! :)

  • Dana

    Yes! This is exactly how I feel! I LOVE weddings and have for YEARS before getting engaged! I’ve been reading wedding blogs (and hiding it) for eons before getting engaged. I too thought I’d feel free once I got engaged. But no, I still feel shame faced in front of people for being so into it. And for spending such a hefty amount on a cake and on flowers. Especially since it seems all of my friends are in such different financial situations than me, they make me feel frivolous and continually make comments about how “oh if they were getting married they would just do something simple. It’s stupid and a waste to spend so much money on one day and on things that don’t ‘matter'” (yes they say this to my face).

    So even when meeting with wedding vendors I direct my eyes downward while I mutter that I love weddings and it’s a hobby and yes I know exactly what I want because I’ve been pinteresting my wedding for 2 years.

    Thank you for writing this post because sometimes it’s just nice to know that others feel the way you do!

    • Laura

      I think it’s easy for people to say “I would just do something simple” when their wedding is only theoretical in their minds. Having the actuality of the event in front of you really makes you realize what you find most important! It will be interesting to see what happens when these people actually start getting married!

      • Caroline

        Hello that’s me. We always figured, oh we’ll just do something simple, spend 2-3 grand at most. Anything more would be obscene for us. Now tht we are recently engaged, that is not the budget, size, or simplicity we are looking at. That’s about a chunk of the catering budget. Even being one of those “read APW for years before getting engaged, already know some of my dream vendors” people, I was still completely blindsided about what things cost. I thought I knew, really I did. I thought I knew, then friends emailed me detailed breakdown of their weddin budgets. I know these friends worked hard to keep costs down, and yet there was a lot of “it cost THAT much?!!”

    • Jess

      I think another version of the “I’d just do something simple” line is the line from already-married women about how you won’t remember any of this (flowers/cake/napkin color) after the wedding. Yes, I know I probably won’t care during the wedding or remember after the wedding, but I care now. Just because the cake won’t be the highlight of my wedding memories doesn’t mean I should pick any old cake or not care at all, does it (especially if I was really, really excited about the cake)?

      • Class of 1980

        Every couple is different because people are different. I know couples who don’t remember the details, but I know couples who vividly remember the details decades later.

        The ones who don’t remember the details may be the ones who were not invested in them in the first place. And that’s okay.

        • Ana

          I tried to use that line on my fiance when we were choosing ceremony and reception chairs. As in, “Do you really remember ANY of the chairs from ANY of the weddings we’ve been to? We should just take the white plastic chairs included with the caterer’s price because we’ll never remember and its not important.”

          Cut to her reciting all the of the weddings we’ve been to since 2008 and the types of chairs used and whether or not they were the same chairs for the ceremony and reception. Sooo now “choosing chairs” is on her “to-do alone” list and I can get back to picking ceremony music (which I can remember from all the weddings since 2008 and she can’t).

          • H

            This is brilliant. How do I know I care about x? Oh, because I remember x from every wedding I’ve ever been to. You, my dear Ana, are a genius. And then delegating based on this. *duh*

          • Kess

            Ugh, I am such that kind of person! Details that wouldn’t matter to anyone else and that people wouldn’t notice are right there in the forefront of my mind. Heck, I can tell you pretty much every single shirt my brothers have ever worn. (But does this amazing memory come into play when attempting to remember how to solve a differential equation? Of course not because that would actually be useful)

          • Amy

            10000% YES!

            I remember the chairs. And the centerpieces. And the cake.

            An eye for detail can be a blessing and a curse. Sometimes I don’t WANT to remember the chairs… or care about them. But I do. So I need to pick out the chairs. And not be made to feel that I’m acting crazy.

            “To do alone list”…. brilliant!

  • Liz

    I loved “planning” my wedding before becoming engaged or under pressure to make practical decisions, I think for exactly these reasons.

    It was so fun to dream about piles of frothy tulle and ranunculus before I had to come to terms with the fact that piles of tulle aren’t really my style, and ranunculus isn’t in season in October. I think being practical in decision making, but dreaming freely (and drawing that line between fantasy and what would actually be reasonable for me) was so key to enjoying the process.

    I guess it never bothered me that some of my friends weren’t into the details of the wedding. It seemed a bit like my PhD thesis — they would ask about it because it was something they knew I was doing, but were more into making conversation than truly interested in the logistics.

    • Cali

      Haha, yes! I was obsessed with wedding details and planning while I was “pre-engaged” and our wedding was still theoretical. Once we actually had to figure out how to throw a wedding, my obsession virtually disappeared.

      And I’ve actually never been a big talker… so it’s never been much of an issue for me that my friends aren’t all over-the-moon to talk wedding details with me. I actually get weirdly uncomfortable talking about the details, I’d rather have most people just be surprised day-of.

  • Fermi

    “You know what? I’m glad that I’m excited, too.”

    Your last sentence literally brought a smile to my face!

    Enjoy your wedding planning, every last minute! I think that is the great thing about APW, you can be happy about whatever makes you happy, and we will support you.

  • KC

    1. Used books: Better World Books online is fantastic. (if you have a local used book store that has what you’d like, that is even better, but if you have specific ideas for what you want, BWB is sooo great for price, convenience, and helping literacy programs around the world; the books are sometimes library retirees, though – if you’re looking for a visual aesthetic that does not include Dewey Decimal stickers on the spines of the book, that may not be the way to go)

    2. Yes! Get excited about what you’re excited about! I think a big part of the Bridezilla difference is that it has to all be Exactly This Way *without* being excited about it in a positive way (and without being able to handle someone else not caring in the least). If anyone isn’t getting confused about what’s important (“Well, if I can’t have [orchestra, handmade bunting, perfect shoes], then I won’t marry you at all” is a bad sign for either your sleep/hunger levels or your sanity), then it seems like, ideally, it would be great if people could be positively excited about as many aspects of their lives as possible, including wedding planning. (imagine: “I get to go to work! Yay!” and “Oh, this subway line is so interesting!” and “Vacuuming is magic! All that dirt, slurped up!” along with “The invitation paper makes me so happy!” and “Oooh, I get to choose shoes!” and “Yay! Making bunting is so much fun!”). Obviously this is not the way the world *actually* works, since not everyone is excited about everything they have to get done/experience (hello, flu), but I wish people would let other people be excited about whatever they’re excited about (even if it’s a cubicle job, or geeking out over flower arrangement) and be not-excited about the things they’re not excited about, and quit forcing it either way!

    • Class of 1980

      I couldn’t agree more. I also think excitement generates more success in every area of life.

    • http://www.lulamaeevents.com Meigh McPants

      Absolutely to #2. Sometimes friends will comment that I’m easily amused, but I just tell them that means I get to spend more of my life being amused! There is nothing wrong or unfeminist or frivolous about being excited about your wedding. You’re joining your life to someone else’s, it’s a big deal, and being exited about the environment in which you are doing that is perfectly understandable.

  • Class of 1980

    Honestly, any guy who is excited to be marrying you, is going to be happy that you’re excited about your wedding. The way most men are, they take it as a personal compliment. ;)

    I think it’s fine to immerse yourself in the plans. After all, who wants to look back on it as a weary slog to the finish line? In life, you really need to embrace pleasures when they occur. As you get older, this will become very evident.

    You’ll know if the planning becomes too much – it’s when it stops being fun.

  • Jae

    We gave away used books at our wedding a few weeks ago — we had a great time collecting books all spring and summer, going to library rummage sales and giant used book store 50% off summer clearance sales with our friends and parents. I didn’t get the smug “you shouldn’t give a flying fig about favors” look, I got the slightly glazed over, dumb founded, polite smile, as though used books at a wedding were somehow terrible and would ruin my marriage forever — who ever heard of used books as wedding favors? (people who read APW, for one) How could I not give favors that were branded? Those same people at my wedding were running around at the end of the reception gathering up the used books people had forgotten to take (or had chosen not to). But I promise you, gathering them up for the ceremony wasn’t complicated.

    I think the joy of APW is that it reminds us that it’s okay to be WHATEVER about your wedding — excited, ambivalent, have regrets afterward, love every minute of it….it doesn’t matter. Like you said, you’d marry your guy wearing Trader Joe’s bags….planning and crafting and whatnot can be fun. It’s your wedding, your party, and if used books on the table make you happy, then get down with your get down!

  • Granola

    Just have to throw out that I too LOVED the used-books-as-favors idea and thought about doing it. I would have really enjoyed getting to hear about them from you. And if unnamed conversation partner didn’t, then he or she shouldn’t have asked.

    You’re not alone. I’m finally starting to get excited about our wedding, 2.5 weeks away (eep!) and you know what? It feels GREAT. I can be happy, and enjoy the centerpieces and be excited to see everyone and eat cake. So much better than all the stress that’s defined most of the process.

  • Jashshea

    Perfect timing as always. I have about 37 days left until the wedding and there’s a couple big things that aren’t done – some that could have been done ahead of time and some that can’t. I could feel myself getting jaw-clenchy and shoulder tensey. But then I just told myself that I was going to spend the entire month of October being, quote, engaged as all hell. I’m (hopefully) never going to be engaged again, so I’m going to celebrate it, rather than looking at all the wedding stuff as a drain.

    I’m pretty sure I can make it less than 40 days with that attitude :)

    • One More Sara

      “Engaged as all hell.” I love it. Totally going to use that when I get down to the wire..

  • KE

    You summed up my conflicted feelings perfectly. I love parties, people, and dancing generally, so getting to do that in addition to promising to spend my life with my favorite person is something I am very interested in. We’re having a traditional wedding with a sit down dinner for 150 and a band for dancing. If you just looked at the photos, I’m sure it would look like the WIC in action.

    But my fiance and I are doing this sanely. All the vendors we’re working with are local small business owners who are lovely and talented, and I’m happy to support them. I genuinely enjoy browsing photos of updos while watching TV; it helps me unwind after work. And most importantly, my parents can afford this without taking on debt and are willing to pay for our wedding.

    I realize I am in a very fortunate situation. Sometimes I get embarrassed reading other brides’ thoughtful essays on why they chose a smaller, simpler wedding. I change the subject when people ask how wedding planning is going because I’m worried about looking shallow or spoiled. But I’m really excited, y’all.

    • Taylor B

      I really like your point of “if you just looked at the photos…” This really clicked for me. We have a similar process for selecting vendors and choosing to do a lot of the work ourselves, but on the surface it will look (hopefully!) pretty and intentional and like the now fairly common outdoor farm wedding. But what matters is that this is what we want, and how we get there together. Thanks for the reminder!

  • http://www.kristyshealthrevolution.wordpress.com Kristy Doyle

    I LOVE THIS POST!!

    I get those moments of feeling guilty about being excited, but why!? Why shouldn’t I be excited about marrying the guy I would marry “in Trader Joe’s bags in the middle of the sidewalk on a Tuesday afternoon” — I LOVE that by the way, because it’s exactly how I feel, but why shouldn’t I be happy and want a beautiful day to celebrate our love with the people we care about the most?

  • Amy March

    This. All of this. I have wanted a huge wedding since I was a tiny tot. My mother always responded with you’d better work hard in school and get a good job to afford all that. Done and done. My planning is still in the delicious-fictitious stage and I’m still excited about it!

  • Emily

    I spent the two weeks before my wedding at my parents’ house (my husband and I live in another state) finishing up everything for the wedding. I stayed up pretty much every night until about 2 AM finishing some project, or organizing some list. My brother would come home from work at midnight, see me hard at work, and start going on and on about how much of a waste of money a wedding was, and how you could use all the money from a wedding to do something more practical, like put a down payment on a house and on and on…. He did this almost every single night that I was home.

    But we’re not planning on buying a home right now. We were especially lucky in that our parents had given us the money and we were choosing to spend it how we wished. No one was going into debt. It mattered to us (and to the people paying) to have a wedding, and it is ok to spend money and time on things that matter to you, even if they don’t matter to others.

    I loved the details of my wedding. Those details–all those things I spent money on, or time on, or that my friends spent money and time one–they made my wedding day more special than just some party. I felt beautiful in my dress, and I felt surrounded by so much love when I walked into my reception to see all of the things that my mom, bridesmaids, and I had made, and that my bridesmaids had set up that morning while I was off getting my hair done. Oh yeah, and my brother (who usually has a sour face and bored disposition–especially during family parties) spent the whole night smiling like an idiot.

    • Jashshea

      The “waste of money” thing really chaps my ass as well. The practical/practical side of me would so much rather be gifted money to use on the wedding or as I saw fit. The slightly less practical side of me wants a big fancy party. The reality is that my parents are paying for the wedding – they are not offering me $XX to use as I see fit. So…there are things I’ve spent money on that are important to them that are things I could do without. Which makes me doubly annoyed when anyone turns up their nose at something I’m doing for the wedding.

      I’m glad your brother came around. That’s very sweet.

      • Emily

        It totally annoys me the whole “waste of money” thing. A wedding is only a “waste” of money if you start spending on things that are TOTALLY frivolous and don’t matter to anyone, and/or it is sending you or the bill-footer into a world of debt for no reason. If it matters to you, or even if it matters to someone else important to the wedding (especially those paying the bills), than it is money well-spent. If what you want is to save the $XX and spend it on a house and have a much-less-expensive wedding, SWEET! That is totally your prerogative and I bet your wedding will be just as awesome and beautiful as mine was, just in a different way. For me and my family, spending that money on a bigger wedding meant something to us. It was money well-spent.

        • Jashshea

          Yup – I’m the only daughter, so this is my parents big shot to throw a wedding. My mom has a large family and my parents have many friends with whom I am quite close. Add to that the groom’s family being massive/local and we couldn’t quite eke out the < 100 person wedding I'd thought about for years Once we eclipsed 150 (this is my fam+his fam+parent friends) I threw my hands up and invited a ton of friends. We topped out at just under 280. It's going to be a total bash and cost "way too much money."

          I could have just eloped or had something small, but it's really important to my parents that we have the wedding this way. And I really do like big f'off parties, just never pictured me at the center of one. I doubt I'll regret the money spent and I'm sure my parents won't.

        • KE

          The “waste of money” thing kills me. A wedding may be a waste of money… FOR YOU. But for me and my fiance and my family, it’s money well spent.

          Why do we making money spent on weddings a moral issue in a way that we don’t with other expenses? People have a million and one opinions on how money should be used generally, of course, but tend to be especially vehement regarding weddings.

          For example, I know people who love cars. Love reading about them, driving them, looking at engines, daydreaming about their dream car. For me, a car is a way to get to A to B, and as long as it’s safe and clean-ish, I couldn’t care less what it looks like or how powerful the engine is or other bells and whistles. But if someone who loves cars chooses to buy a new one that costs 20K more than I’d be willing to spend, I don’t say a word. Because #1, it’s none of my business. But also, I assume that if they’re willing to spend that much of their hard-earned cash, they’re getting a level of enjoyment from the car that’s worth it to them. Likewise, if I’m willing to spend 20K more on my wedding than the car lover spent on theirs, they should assume that having a more expensive wedding is enjoyable and worth it to me. It is not somehow more ethical and less shallow to spend lots of money on a car (or anything else) than it is a wedding. As long as you aren’t overextending yourself financially, how you choose to spend your money should be your own business. Why do people try to make it otherwise, particularly with weddings?

          • http://theroadto92912.blogspot.com Molly

            Your comment reminds of Meg’s post on a wedding as an investment in memories.

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

            A wedding is only a waste of money if the people putting out the cash (whether that’s the happy couple or the parents or family or whomever) feel that way.

          • KH_Tas

            ‘Why do people try to make it otherwise, particularly with weddings?’

            Because weddings are considered feminine, and all that horrid sexist ‘if women like it, it must be stupid’ stuff comes into play?

            I agree, it’s pretty horrible to shame people about what they’re spending on a wedding if it is sensible to them

  • Eileen

    This really resonated with me.

    When I got married, I felt like I needed to make it clear to people that I was trying to be practical and immediately kick away the assumption that I was a crazed bridezilla. Looking back, I did that by highlighting the few things I was really excited about (cake! my dress! having a dance party!), and downplaying everything else by saying I just wanted to have things, but I didn’t care about the details (chairs – its good to have chairs, I just don’t care about the specifics).

    In a sense, we’re trying to represent this community and mindset to the wider world to counter the bridezilla sterotype, but its so true that we shouldn’t lose the things we’re excited about in our weddings. I think the impact of APW is that we focus on being excited about what are the right things for us, which was the practical part for me.

  • Lee

    There is nothing to be ashamed about! I, too, am super excited to be planning our wedding to be exactly how we want it – how WE want it. There’s such a stigma about being too excited, and I too feel embarrassed when speaking with friends/relatives who are also getting married around the same time as us but aren’t planners like me, or perhaps as excited about the details! I have to hold my tongue sometimes and feel I can’t reveal how we plan on doing X, Y, and Z. I’ll bet there are a lot of APW readers who are stoked to feel empowered to make the choices for their wedding, however traditional, non-traditional, small, large, detailed, sparsely-detailed that may be! And for us, we’re really excited to be able to plan an event where we can spend our wedding $’s with vendors who are small, independent or just starting out, in a city where there are a lot of profit-making to be had. Plan-on, sister! It’ll be grand!

  • Hilary

    I love this post. I was the polar opposite about my wedding and got a lot of judgement for not being more outwardly excited (ironically enough now that I’m pregnant I get the same judgement), but I’m just more of a private person. Not to say that I didn’t obsessively round the corners of every paper product that I made b/c heaven forbid some corners be rounded and others be squared off. However, I get insanely excited about other peoples’ weddings/babies/life events. As long as someone else gets to be the center of attention, I’m good. And really, if someone doesn’t want to know the details, they shouldn’t ask. So stay excited and have fun with it!

    • Moe

      Being the center of attention gives me some anxiety too, I’m a much better bridesmaid than a bride.

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

      There`s so much pressure both ways. I find that as a newlywed I get a lot of pressure to talk in detail about the wedding, which I don`t really want to do. (Not because I didn`t love the way I got married, but because I eloped and after the fact I view our wedding as an intensely private and personal event.) But people want to know more details about it than I’m really comfortable sharing and it’s hard to explain to people that yeah, it was awesome and it’s not that I’m not excited to be married, and it’s not that I don’t value my relationship with the people asking but it’s just something I’m keeping for me right now.

  • Moe

    My name is Moe and I have a wedding porn addiction. It started with the Kn*t, you know the classic gateway drug.

    Then I got into the heavier stuff and once I discovered Pinterest it was out of control. It didn’t take long for my addiction to interfere with work, I would sneak in pinning pictures of dresses and bouquets when my boss wasn’t looking.

    Suddenly eloping seemed curb my appetite for pictures of dresses and seeking out caterings ideas.

    Now that I’m actually planning a second public celebration for our families I feel like my excitement is even more out-of-place because I’m already married. The most freeing moment came when my friend told me to stop doubting my excitement. “This is your turn to be a bride, be excited! It’s ok! Let people celebrate with you!”

    I discovered a healthy balance by limiting who I talk to about wedding planning and where I discuss it. For example I don’t mention it on Facebook because I personally find it annoying. I also know that I will not be inviting all of my BF friends, so it seems a little rude.

    I don’t discuss it with co-workers because they won’t be invited either.

    My bridesmaids and matron of honor? Oh they get it full force! Invitations, dress fittings etc. I hold nothing back.

    ENJOY BEING A BRIDE. ENJOY THE PLANNING PROCESS. This is your moment, do it your own way and make no apologies for it. Congratulations!!!

  • Ana

    This was my freak-out last night: feeling like I need to be a DIY hipster or an all-inclusive princess and there is no in-between. Yes, I’m doing some indie/DIY things and some WIC things but that doesn’t make me one or the other. How can I explain that “sending the moms over with a box of decorations an hour before the ceremony” (as my caterer suggested) and “custom monograms on the programs, the menu, the favors, & the cake” (as a wedding coordinator suggested) both sound like awful ideas to me? It’s been so frustrating to feel like I have to be one or the other – I spend a lot of time saying to vendors on both sides of the spectrum “Actually, we were thinking of doing something different” and getting a scrunchy face from them.

  • Elisa

    THANK YOU for this post. I wish it would have been around when I was planning my wedding last year! Even though we’ve been married for nine months, I still find myself waffling on my feelings about our wedding in regards to the pressure to be practical. Was my wedding too big? Too extravagant? Should I feel guilty that we didn’t DIY our invites and hired a makeup artist for me and my bridesmaids? It’s so easy to guilt ourselves into believing that there is a “right” way to feel about our excitement to plan (and have, and look back on) a certain type of wedding. Thank you for reminding us that it’s okay, and more than acceptable, to love and be proud of your wedding because what choose to do is practical for YOU.

  • http://www.rachelwilkerson.com Rachel Wilkerson

    You summed up my feelings perfectly with this post! Also, this? “I’ve actually found out that being officially engaged hasn’t been all that freeing because I still feel judged for enjoying wedding planning.” So, so, SO true.

    One thing that has helped me when I feel a bit dorky/embarrassed for being excited about certain things is to try to treat it like any other thing I’d geek out over. If I’m geeking out about nail polish, I totally own it. I’m like “Yeah, I love nail polish, always have…what can ya do?” And same with favors or wedding food or whatever…and I try to tie it back to something universal/not-wedding related. As in “Well, I’m SUPER pumped about the invites because stationery and paper is kinda my thang, so this is just so exciting for me to have an excuse to pick out something besides Christmas cards!” I feel like it makes me feel more confident and happy about what I am doing and it helps show the smug people that women often love weddings for specific, personal reasons, not necessarily WIC-induced, materialistic, shallow ones.

    • Taylor B

      FANTASTIC ADVICE. I love this. Your enthusiasm is infectious!

      • H

        Agreed. As an aside, I also love this blog (because I am fashion-challenged occasionally): http://theviviennefiles.blogspot.com/2012/02/i-dont-own-eiffel-tower.html, and I feel like the lesson in this post is applicable to weddings. In short, you don’t have to own everything beautiful in the world.

      • p.

        I agree: this is great advice. It provides some context for where your enthusiasm is coming from and it confirms that your enthusiasm is genuine and not some WIC-induced mania. My guess is that it’d also help people know how to best support you.

    • Kess

      This is fantastic. Also, totally within my normal scheme of things. I geek out over things a LOT. I’m one of those people that will get hooked on a subject and just find out everything about it (for example, knots, historic underwear, backpacking equipment, knitting, sign language, etc.). I just get excited about stuff!

      I’m really scared to show any sort of excitement as I’m quite young for my circle to even be considering getting married (not engaged yet, but everyone thinks I’m crazy for “limiting” myself to jobs/schools that are in a geographic area where my SO can also find a job – considering we’re both engineers that mainly work with computers, that’s not too limiting!) But everyone’s used to me geeking out about everything else, so maybe when the time comes it won’t be so awkward.

  • http://www.laughterinthelou.com Emma

    Good one :)

  • Martha

    I gotta say, this is one of my favorite posts on APW ever. I remember the sheepish feelings I used to get any time I was even mildly excited about wedding planning. I couldn’t understand why I felt judged being excited about something that is supposed to be a happy occasion! I bought wedding shoes two months before I even got engaged and was so embarrassed when I got them in the mail – I tried to hide them from my live-in fiance. I thought he would think I was coo-koo for buying them without a ring on my finger He, much like your fiance, just thought it was cute and gave me props for snagging them for a meager $8(which was the main reason I bought them while perusing the DSW clearance section). One of my friends was nutty enough to tell me I was “jinxing” myself by purchasing them. Which is just crazy talk!

  • Taylor B

    I love this post, thank you for writing! I’m realizing after reading it and the comments that this feeling has been compounded for me by being one of the “last couples” to get married in our local group of friends. Several couples are already on to pregnancies, and it has felt at social functions like people have moved on from weddings (whereas a year or two ago, weddings were all anyone could talk about). Thank you for reminding me that this is exciting, I don’t need to be embarrassed by my excitement and that I still have nine months of fun ahead of me!

  • Jessica

    Oh, I love this post. I am getting married in a WEEK AND A HALF (!!!) and am still dealing with how I am “supposed” to act. It seems that women are often expected to be completely cool and aloof about weddings OR absolutely bridezillas – as if there is no middle ground. That has really been tough for me.

    Personally, I DO find myself in the middle, and I’m happy there. While I have not DIY-ed myself to death, I’ve enjoyed Pinterest like whoa and have gotten lots of great ideas from blogs and magazines. I’ve heard “you’re wasting your time – it’s JUST A DAY!” – except, no, it’s really not “just a day.” Not to me and my fiance, anyway. It’s our wedding day and it’s special and important to us.

    ENJOY being engaged! And relish each little wedding task that comes your way. xo

  • http://theroadto92912.blogspot.com Molly

    I LOVE this post. We’re spending a lot of money on our wedding (on Saturday! Eek!), and I feel like if people knew just how much, they would disapprove. “Look at all that money for just one day.” “I could buy a nice car for that much money!” “Wow, they must be rich.” But on the other hand, if we had a budget wedding, I’m sure people would think, “Why are they being cheap?” “It’s just NOT a wedding without [thing we would've cut for the budget's sake]!”

    When it comes to weddings, women can’t win. If we want to get engaged, we’re pushy. If we don’t want to get engaged, what’s wrong with us? Do we want to die alone? If we have an opinion, BRIDEZILLA ALERT! If we don’t have an opinion, but it’s your special day! Excited? Calm down, there. You don’t want to be a bridezilla. Not excited? You should be! It’s your special day!

    • http://www.madeinmorningside.blogspot.com Ashleigh

      Ha ha YES!! This!! xox

  • http://www.jandrfoods.com Rachel

    Thank you for writing this and I feel like it is the story of my life. I love this post!! I love this post so much because I too love weddings and have always loved weddings. I was always planning weddings growing up but interestingly not for me always for someone else.

    I still read wedding magazines even thgouh we are married and I could care less. Even if it my “guilty pleasure” my husband knows it makes me happy and in turn makes him happy so in his mind everyone wins.

  • Kt in KC

    Oh, my goodness, this post could not have been more perfectly timed! I was having lunch with someone just yesterday who gave me a very strong vibe that I shouldn’t have a big wedding, that I shouldn’t be excited about planning a big wedding, that I should sweep my wedding under a rug and get on with the marriage, that weddings were “crap-shoots” and just a waste of time and money, etc. I went home slightly freaking out and incredibly guilty…and then I realized, “HEY! I will NOT sweep either my wedding or my marriage under a rug out of sight! I will NOT be ashamed of having a wedding. I am happy about getting married, about planning a wedding, about everything! I enjoy a big party where all our families and friends will have tremendous fun (and where I get to wear a giant princess ballgown and tiara without looking ridiculous), even if I have to pay for every damn detail. Sure, it’s only one day, and other people may forget, but it’s my day, and I will never forget!” So thank you, Christina, for informing me that I’m not the only one proud and happy to have a big wedding :-)

  • Jenni

    I love this post. When I was engaged, I felt uncomfortable talking about my wedding at times — people really were interested, but I felt like I shouldn’t be so obsessive, and I didn’t want to have to justify my choices. My solution was to create a private blog where I could gush and squee and obsess to my little heart’s content, all without judgement or wearing others out. It worked for me, although I do admit it could be a little lonely at times!

  • Elena

    Such a cute post! I’m so happy for the two of you!
    Planning a wedding IS exciting! My fiance is very happy that I’m doing all the planning and all he has to do is show up :) He’s also very excited about being married to me (he tells me every day how he can’t wait to call me his wife), but he doesn’t care much about the ceremony itself. My way of not over-stressing about details is not ever reading about how weddings SHOULD be. What is centerpiece?? I’ve never heard of wedding favors before. All I know is that in the beginning chairs are facing the couple of the ceremony when we sign some papers and say vows, and then chairs move to tables for a food feast. Once the venue is booked, food is ordered, legal paperwork filed – the rest is pure fun! Simply because I can do as much or as little planning as I want!!
    I didn’t plan on ordering wedding invitations (we’ll only have ~20 people, mostly just the family), but then I thought it would be cute, and spent an evening on a couch next to my man, ordering them from the cheapest website :) And it was so exciting!

  • Sara

    I’m not currently engaged (or dating), so I’m very pre-ring you. I love weddings and wedding related things. I come from a large extended family, so I’ve been attending them my whole life! What’s not to love about a party with all the people you love? Most of my friends are married. I was many of their weddings for three reasons (a) I’m a good enough friend, (b) I’m extremely organized and (c) I get overexcited about wedding details. I was the friend that people called to say ‘I found the perfect stamp for my wedding invitations! Which of these three shades of purple do think it’ll look best in’ or ‘What kind of red flowers do you think will go with your bridesmaid dress?”

    You should excited, just know your audience! I would love to hear about your used book favors, but one of my friends didn’t even know (or care) what menu she had planned at her reception. She actually called me to find out if she was still allowed to wear her engagement ring after she got married. Go figure.
    Everyone has something that they geek out about – I’ve listened to my share of fantasy sport-of-the-month talk as well – and if that’s something that makes you happy, then people should respect that. If they don’t, well, then that’s something they need to work on.

    • Elena

      Sara, I need more friends like you for my wedding :) My fiance’s brother’s girlfriend stepped in and offered to organize the decorations for my wedding, since she lives in the same city/state as the wedding will be. It’s awesome to have someone who’s even more excited about your wedding than you are, and is willing to help organize things.

      Maybe you should be a wedding planner ;)

  • http://www.ruthmadison.com Carolyn

    Awesome post!

    I’m your kindred spirit. Here I am on APW and I’m not engaged. I’ve been reading here since nearly the beginning and I’ve been dating, single, dating again.

    But I love weddings. I love everything about weddings. I watch wedding shows and read wedding magazines and read chick-lit books about weddings. I don’t care who gives me strange looks: I’m not going to tamp down my excitement for anyone :)

  • Jane

    THANK YOU FOR THIS!!

    I am weeks away from my wedding and just had a mini-meltdown because, upon picking up my dress, I thought it was too ‘wedding dress-y.’ What??? The anti-wedding non-industrial non-aligned movement has gotten into my head, and I’m pretty sure it’s just as bad in terms of its expectations / judgement as the WIC.

    After months of planning, I’m pretty sure there IS no happy middle ground between these two camps–there’s just the space you carve out with you and your fiance, and the people who celebrate with you (and hopefully find a way to understand what you are trying to do). It’s that space of just being hella-excited to celebrate your pants off in whatever way you choose to do so. If you hold up your wedding to ANY yardstick–alternative or traditional–it will probably seem lacking.

    But then again, you and I and everyone here know that what’s not lacking is the love, and that’s all that really matters. :)

  • Sarah Australia

    I completely felt this prior to our wedding . I felt like people were all to willing to put me into one of two camps:

    1. Shallow-wedding-obsessed-lost-the-ability-to talk-or-care-about-anything-other-than-her-wedding Bride
    or
    2. Pretending not to be Shallow-wedding-obsessed-lost-the-ability-to talk-or-care-about-anything-other-than-her-wedding Bride

    The idea that I genuinely cared about our wedding, but was also genuinely cared about the lives of friends, family and world happenings meant I was some kind of radical to be approached with caution, or that I was repressing my inner Bride-craziness or something!

  • http://www.superfantastic.blogs.com Superfantastic

    We had almost this same moment. I realized I’d been going on about wedding ideas for a while and I stopped and gave him a sheepish look and said, “I’m excited.” like it was something to be ashamed of. And it was such a relief when he said he was glad.

  • http://www.weddingfortwo.blogspot.com Ellie

    I was SO into wedding planning, and my husband’s ex girlfriend saw my blog and said, “wow. Ellie’s kind of a *bride*, huh?” and he told me about it and I nearly cried. The wedding is about so much more than the party though. I genuinely love crafting, and I crafted a lot because I liked to do it, and it gave me a lot of time for reflection before the wedding. I don’t regret how into it I got, even now.

    Oh, and when my husband proposed, I said, “I’m glad you asked before my subscription to Brides magazine showed up.” I subscribed when Amazon had a $4 magazine sale two months before we got engaged….

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