Ask Team Practical: Preparing to be Practical

Today’s Ask Team Practical is about one of the enduring complexities of wedding planning—explaining what you’re doing to a world hooked on crazy TLC wedding shows. Being a bride can feel a lot like being public property: everyone has ideas about what you should and shouldn’t be doing. So today Alyssa tackles explaining your practical wedding to the peanut gallery (pro-tip from me: practical doesn’t equal dogmatic, and you might need to learn to nod and smile).

Without even being engaged, I feel the eyebrow raises from people about non-WIC choices. Just this week I heard, “He bought cases of Two Buck Chuck for his wedding? Come on…it’s your WEDDING!” as well as, “What’s next,
e-mail invitations?” Both of which I think are awesome ideas. Both times, I responded with, “Actually I like that idea. Why not?” Which I hope made both people think a little.

My question is, at the very beginning of an engagement, how do you explain to people the idea of being Practical? How do you introduce that, especially to your mother, friends, vendors or even your fiance? What’s the best way to try and nip problems in the bud, before they start throwing tulle and roses and glitter at you? Or is it all a process of calmly explaining things as they come?


Frankly, I kind of love the idea of throwing tulle and roses and glitter at someone.  It makes me want to hide around corners and then jump out and scream, “You’re getting married!!” and then start chucking decor at brides-to-be… *ahem.*

Ever hear the expression, “Opinions are like a**holes. Everyone has them?”  Well, wedding opinions are like bikini waxes; not everyone has had them, but everyone has something to say about them—and those who have had them are the worst.  There’s no real way around peoples’ opinions, but the best way to deal with them is the same way you deal with them on any other subject: nod, smile and then go about your business.

You guys have all read the APW philosophy, right? (I know Meg killed herself writing it, so you should just to make her happy, even if it wasn’t useful. Which it is.)  Looking at it, you’ll realize your mom probably had a Practical Wedding.  (Hello, Vintage Weddings?)  People have Practical Weddings all the time and have no idea.  So if you sat someone down and went, “Here’s what we’re doing and why,” and outlined the basic ideals of APW, they’d probably look at you sideways because it just makes sense (and people think it’s weird when weddings make sense). Of course, weddings are supposed to be laid-back and fun! In general, A Practical Wedding sounds like a fabulous idea and everyone’s on board and it’s not until you get to discussing details that people start going, “Whoa.  You’re doing what?”

So let’s talk about explaining your Practical Wedding style to the uninitiated.  (Yes, there are those who don’t read APW.  Terrible, right?)

Your partner: Your partner already knows you well, so this one should be easy.  However, don’t be surprised to find out that your wedding ideas may clash in unexpected ways.  I’m going to assume you both have read our Ask Team Practical on getting started on wedding planning, and discussed what you want, yes? If so, you’re probably pretty much on the same page.  But when faced with details that your partner wants and you don’t (it’s gonna happen), stop and think “Am I morally or philosophically opposed to this?”  If yes, discuss with your partner and talk about why.  If not, then think, “Do I not want this more than my partner wants it?” If yes, discuss some more and think of a compromise.  If not, let it go.  Seriously, it will not kill you to have an element in your wedding that you don’t love but your partner does. And remember, you picked them and that weird funky personal sense of style is now a part of your family; you don’t have to love it as much as you love them, but you have to accept it.

If it’s your weird funky sense of personal style that is giving your partner fits, explain to each other why you like/hate the particular element and why. Be specific; I know from experience that “Because it’s pretty,” or “I think that’s stupid,” are not productive phrases. Show each other pictures or drawings of what you’re talking about, or find examples of other couples who have done something similar.  And if you can’t come to a decision, table it. A little time, and occasionally a change in mood or blood sugar, can help you come to a compromise that you can both live with.

Your family: Oh, families.  If not for them, I wouldn’t get so many emails going, “Can we just friggin’ elope?!?”  Talk to them about your Practical Wedding as you would your partner, but when faced with details you know they’ll scoff at, just don’t mention them.  Your grandmother thinks your tattoos are your express pass into hell, so don’t mention the fact that you’re walking down the aisle to Apocalypitca’s version of One. Dad still mad about you going veggie in 1996?  Forget to mention that the cake will be vegan. As Meg said in her own wedding grad post, “Keeping people on a need-to-know basis is fine sometimes. It’s not just that it’s easier to apologize than to ask permission, but that people will be so caught up in the joy of your wedding day that little things that might worry them before hand won’t bother them at all on the day of.” I’m not advocating hiding anything, but there are some fights with your family that you are going to have for the rest of your life.  Why not save them for the holidays?

For the details that you can’t avoid talking about, make sure your family knows why you’re doing them.  Don’t defend, just explain.  And treat your family’s suggestions as respectfully as you’d like them to treat your choices; a simple, “That sounds really nice.  I’ll think about it, but we’ve been considering ________,” works wonders.

Your friends: Talking to your friends can be done the same way you talk to your family, just with more cussing.  But the contents of these conversations can vary depending on who your friends are.  If they are interested in weddings, then by all means explain what WIC is and send them to APW to get their learn on!  But make sure you’re having a back and forth conversation and respect the ideas they give you, too.

However, you’re also going to have friends who care deeply about you, they just don’t care that much about your wedding.  They’re excited for you, but honestly they just want to know what to wear, what they’re eating and if you’ll have booze or not.  And that’s fine, too. Be grateful for their presence and serve them good food. (On time.)

Your vendors: This one is easy because you choose your vendors.  Don’t pick someone whose style or philosophy is not in line with yours; you will be miserable and so will they.  If you have a vendor that you did not choose (one that comes with your venue, etc.), remember that they don’t have to agree, they just have to understand.  Be specific, use pictures and be honest when something isn’t working for you.  However, realize that if your wedding includes a lot of choices that are non-standard, you’re going to have to budget for that; WIC is so prevalent that it is often cheaper.  You may not like tulle, roses or glitter, but it will probably be cheaper than antique lace, pink puya and biodegradable eco-confetti.

Strangers, co-workers and acquaintances: Like Emily did in her letter, leading by example is probably the best way to talk about your wedding. Don’t feel the need to defend yourself and your choices, but also try not to become the mirror-universe version of the WIC brides. A bride who pontificates on swarovski-encrusted twig centerpieces and only uses The Kn*t-approved vendors is annoying; a bride who beats people over the head with copies of Offbeat Bride and who quotes APW as gospel is just as bad. Be excited, but know that there is room in the world for all types; cheap wine haters AND cheap wine drinkers. It keeps life interesting.

And Yourself: One of APW’s tenets is “How you spend your money is more important than how much you spend. So put your wedding dollars into businesses that reflect your values, and stop judging yourself.” Attempt to have the wedding that best fits you and your partner, not any one style or philosophy.  Listen to yourself and your partner more than anyone else. (Did I just tell you in an advice column to not listen to advice?  I did.  We’re deep like that.) No, you don’t need chair covers. Do you WANT chair covers?  Then for God’s sake, have them. Yes, you are categorized as a bride, but you’re still you. Keep that in mind when planning to be Practical.

The flip-side to this is do not let listening to yourself become a cover for being a d*ck. Being true to your personal style does not include making your best friend, who’s neck-deep in student loans, pay for a bridesmaid dress that costs more than her rent. Having a reception with pork ribs and cheeseburgers when half your family keeps kosher is just being selfish. Find the balance, buy her dress and serve some chicken.


So there you have it.  What say you, Team Practical?  How did you go about explaining your Practical wedding to your friends, family, partner, etc?

Photo of a reader wedding from the APW Flickr stream by Joie du Jour Photography.

If you would like to ask Team Practical a question please don’t be shy! You can email Alyssa at: askteampractical [at] apracticalwedding [dot] com.  If you would prefer to not be named, anonymous questions are also accepted.  Though we prefer if you make up a totally ridiculous sign-off like conflicted and rageful but deeply in love in Detroit (CARBDILID, duh).  We’re not kidding.  It brings us joy.  What, you don’t want to bring your editors JOY?!?

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  • Kate

    Lurker here, but just had to de-lurk for a minute and thank you so much for this post! I’m not engaged yet either, but probably sometime before the end of the year. I already have been stressed, knowing that making practical choices is going to be extremely difficult when I have a traditional family who has very.strict.ideas. about what a wedding “should” look like. I think this post (along with the many others I’ve already starred for future reference) will be one that I’m going back to again and again once the wedding planning begins.

    • Robin

      I’m also finally de-lurking to respond to this Team Practical. For me – and my husband – it was definitely an ongoing process of explaining our Practical Decisions as they came up. My husband is extraordinarily rational and utilitarian, and I am kind of DIY/DIT-crazy, so we wound up with a lot to explain to family members who didn’t understand why we weren’t doing the things that they saw in magazines, or why I would want to make something myself that we could just as easily pay someone to do.

      For us the key was not just explaining our Practical choices, but explaining why we were making those choices and why they mattered to us. We weren’t opposed to taking inspiration from a wedding magazine, but we weren’t going to have people blow bubbles as we walked down the aisle just because my mother-in-law saw it in a magazine and thought it was a cool way for everyone to participate in the ceremony. To us, the beauty of the ceremony is that WE were the only ones who got to participate and our guests got to be the audience. We weren’t going to pay a florist $250 per centerpiece when my mom and I could get all of the components for 20 centerpieces for less than that wholesale and make them ourselves, as we have been making crafts together for my entire life. Those are just examples, I don’t need to go through every explanation we had to give family members (we’d be here for hours).

      One last word of advice though – make sure people are listening when you talk to them! My father-in-law suggested that my husband’s cousins act as our flower girl and ring bearer. We hadn’t planned on having children in the ceremony at all, so we did the old, “That’s a really nice idea, we’ll consider that.” Which he interpreted as “Yes, of course we’ll do that,” and immediately called the parents of said children and told them they were going to be in the wedding. Luckily there are no hard feelings because the kids are great, but no kid ever wants to be told that they are getting kicked out of a wedding.

  • “”How you spend your money is more important than how much you spend.'”

    THIS. That was one of our “Wedding planning tenets” throughout our engagement. And we really, really stuck to this one. We ended up under budget with a wedding we loved, and vendors we loved! (Okay, so there’s about 100 leftover tissue packets that say our names, but I truly LOVED them and loved making them, so it was worth it!).

    I learned very early on in wedding planning to give minimal, hazy info to people…and tell them “we’re thinking about…” or “considering.” People get very weird when they hear definite answers about things. Also, I loved saying the “Oh, that’s a great idea! We’ll put it on our list/in our binder.” Because people got really excited to think they were helping…and I could give them that opportunity; I knew, come the wedding, (for the most part) they wouldn’t even remember their own suggestion, so all would be fine. And it was!

    Great post. I wish I had read APW since day one of engagement…it would have made me stress so less!

    • Yep, this is a good point. Acknowledge other people’s suggestions, even if you promptly forget about them. When it comes to everything about life, most people just want to be heard and acknowledged.

  • I recommend meeting with vendors either alone or as a couple when you have a unique request. Since my parents were paying for the most of the wedding, I had this misguided opinion that I should take them to consultations. When my mom started steam-rolling the ideas I was giving out, though, I got over that notion in a hurry. I think those sessions of brain-storming can be one of the things you keep a secret. Too many chefs in the kitchen ruins the meal…and makes you want to beat your mom.

    • Jennifer Lyn

      exactly. or in my case it’d be “too many chefs in the kitchen makes you want to let your FH beat up your dad…”

    • Nina B.

      Oh, totally. Our original venue called me up one day and said, “Your future mother in-law just called and told me you want [insert things I didn’t want here]. Is that true?” I then had to run interference and make sure ALL vendors called me anytime the in-laws contacted them. What a headache.

  • This is why I love APW–the sense that there’s no right or wrong way to get married. If you want/can afford diamond swans to sing your first dance song, well okay then. If you want to bake brownies for everyone and call it a day, that’s good too. I feel like I’m in the middle ground of traditional and quirky, and trying to not feel guilty on either side can sometimes be hard. But it’s nice to come to APW and get affirmation that all kinds of weddings deserve their day.

    • meg

      DUDE. If you have diamond swans sing your first dance song, you are SO REQUIRED to write a Wedding Graduate post.

      • Title of the post: “Holy shit, guys, DIAMOND SWANS CAN SING!”

  • Cass

    Apocalypitca’s version of One – what a GRAND idea!
    And grandma probably wouldn’t even notice it’s “metal” because the cellos just sound so lovely. :)

  • Sarah

    A-effing-men to this. Our own “special day” (personally, that oft-used phrase makes me wanna hurl) is a little over a week away, and the line re-quoted here about keeping people on a need-to-know basis because after the wedding day, they won’t remember that they were mad at you to begin with was something I really, really needed to hear this morning… ’cause it seems like this wedding s*** makes people lose.their.minds, even when they’re otherwise sane and practical people to begin with.

    All throughout the process, I keep repeating three words: laid-back-picnic. LBP (to which people can wear LBDs, if they choose… or even flannel and carhart, I don’t really care) has been something I’ve been committed to the entire time, and I cannot count the number of times I’ve had to explain to a concerned family-member/friend/etc “no, the reason you haven’t heard anything about needing to prepare XY or Z isn’t because we’re deliberately excluding you, it’s because we’re not having X,Y, or Z… but can you please remember to bring the croquet set and scrabble board?” Need-to-know-will-be-ok. It’s my new mantra!

    • Andrea

      laid-back-picnic! love it

    • Please, please do a wedding grad post! This is exactly what I want but I’m having a hard time finding pictures/information about other picnic weddings that aren’t secretly WIC weddings. I love love love the idea of family picnic meets wedding, sitting in the park playing board games and eating bbq. And I cannot get over the desire to play bocce in my wedding dress! Oh, I wanna see your wedding so bad!

      • Sarah

        You are the sweetest, and now I want to! I’ve had a ridiculously hard time finding similar inspiration as well, and although we’re not going whole-hog picnic (it’s in Alaska, which is a little chilly even in August, so the picnic benches are inside) there WILL be bocce and badminton and big containers of lemonade and homemade cake, so help me. Malcolm and Meghan’s wedding post on this site was such a huge help to my own sense of what our wedding could be.

        • Jennifer Lyn

          this is AWESOME. so one of my best friends is getting married exactly one week before me and they’re doing a giant picnic reception too. I’ll see if I can’t also convince her to do a grad post for you guys.

        • This is so cool. I love the idea of a LBP. We wanted to do that, but had the opposite problem– it was predicted to be 110 degrees! so, we did it inside, as you are going to, and just got as close as possible to what we wanted when we thought we could do it outside. :)

        • As an Alaskan bride who had a laid-back picnic wedding, I’m seconding the requests for a wedding grad post, if you’re willing. It sounds like there’s definitely an audience, and bocce sounds awesome!

          • Sarah

            OMG ANOTHER ONE!!!!!! I’m not in Alaska right now, but grew up there and feel like seriously-the-only-one-ever. I wonder if we know each other.

        • Roadrunner

          PLEASE PLEASE do a wedding graduate post. I’m getting married in late October, and our reception is a picnic at a national park. Croquet and bocce on the list!

          I’d love to hear about things like what you did for plates and flatware, how you handled drinks (little bottles? big bottles? cans?) and other practical picnic things.

          • Sarah

            We are hiring a local restaurant to truck out some food for the meal, and decided to spring for the convenience of having them deal with the plates/etc. Since we have an indoor space as well, it makes it a little easier, and I was willing to pay a very small premium to make those details become not my problem. For drinks, we’re getting a keg and providing everyone with a handled-mason-jar with spray-painted chalkboard circles (sounds way ridiculous when I say it out loud, but my partner is in love with the idea) to identify who belongs to each mug, which they can keep. Then, an assortment of plastic cups for other beverages, and I’m not sure for wine (plastic wine glasses? prolly?) We only have 50 people, and if we were going a completely outdoor route I think I’d use paper plates and such.

            And then, full confession, since I couldn’t stand the idea of not gettin’ down to some r&b, everyone in the wedding party and some other assorted people are staying in a nearby rental vacation home, with a hot tub(!) so we can go back there when it gets dark and dance. Miller lite (or some relative of ML) in cans will feature.

        • I’m in Wisconsin and we are looking at late September/early October, so we are lucky to have beautiful weather predicted. We live in a small city (Oshkosh) and are currently chosing between two different city parks. We can’t book any sooner than 12 months before the event so we’re still deciding on those details. We want LBP food, bbq sandwiches and bbq chicken, with all the traditional picnic sides (baked beans, coleslaw, potato salad). The caterer that I think we are going to go with, again with no date or location nailed down it’s hard to commit, offers an excellent price for picnic buffets that include assorted dessert bars as well. They also serve iced tea and lemonade by the gallon and provide plastic tableware and napkins. They do have china and flatware, as well as glass glasses, available for rent. I think we will do the plastic tableware and rent glasses for champagne.

          I’m planning on setting up a table with different games (scrabble, bocce, croquet, cards and poker chips, etc) and really want everyone to just relax. I’m very averse to every element of weddings that remind me of prom (think about it…. see?) so we’ve eliminated a number of things that we don’t want. For us, this includes dancing. We plan to have music playing (choosing the play list is a particular DIT that I am really looking forward to) and may choose to dance in that we-are-in-the-kitchen- and-caught-up-in-the-moment kind of way that we do sometimes but do not play to have any group dance activities or any planned dancing.

          I’m so excited that others like the LBP idea! I was starting to think that I was the only one who wanted to play games! This is why I love APW.

          • My best friend from college is from Oshkosh. It’s a nice town, I always enjoyed visiting her at home. Your autumn Wisconsin wedding should be beautiful :)

      • I just photographed a really chill super awesome morning wedding with a lawn game theme. Just two tents, croquet, horse shoes, bag toss, checkers, giant tic tac toe boards, folding chairs and tables, kites, and a simple brunch buffet. Invitations were made by 4th graders, dress was casual, bouquets and boutonnieres were DIT, chalk boards were used as signage… It was gorgeous and incredibly sane. Maybe these images will help?

        • Tell Kate to come over here and do a wedding grad/wordless wedding! Or at least tell her that
          1) I want to give her a hug and say thanks for using plan old folding chairs. I was already starting to have the “we need white chairs” panic.
          2) I am in love with her dress.

        • Ris

          I clicked on the slideshow and my heart just about burst. Harvest Moon gets me every time. And beautiful pics :)

    • ElfPuddle

      This is exactly what we’re doing! (Of course, we don’t have a date yet, but that’s a lament for another time.) Our picnic area also includes playground equipment for our kids and nieces and nephews and all the young-at-heart adults. Hooray for fun!

  • Chelsea

    This is funny timing because I’ve been wanting to ask more or less this same question, just set farther in the future… I already had my practical wedding, and now friends (usually not good friends, they know better) who are getting married come to me to “vent” about wedding issues because, as a fairly-recent bride, I’ll totally understand, right? Nope, I’m sorry, I do not understand why you are trying to dictate who brings who as dates to the rehearsal dinner. Especially not 6 months in advance.

    I’ve tried offering practical advice. Got my head bitten off. Tried asking leading questions like, “is it really worth ruining the day over?” and got told that yes, it is. So now I’ve settled on head nods and sympathetic noises and hoping that my recently married status goes away soon and I can just get down to the business of being an old married lady who doesn’t understand.

    • Sarah

      I’ve been thinking about this recently because one of my office-pals just got engaged, and although she struggles with an entirely different set of wedding-issues than I, I remember how badly I wanted to talk to someone who would understand the often conflicting emotions and concerns that I experienced when I was a new bride-to-be. So, those sympathetic noises might mean the world to your friends, who might be foolishly doing things a little differently than you did, but still need support. I’d say keep up the supportive head nods and be happy when you get to go to their weddings, eat their cake, and dance the night away.

    • I’m watching a friend go crazy planning her daughters wedding right now and I just want to tell her, “you know, there is an easier way.” But now might not be the best time to do that. So I just ask how she’s doing.

  • A note about keeping people on a need-to-know basis – I was doing this (and continue to do this with extended family, strangers at parties that find out I’m engaged, etc.) but I wish I had let my (old-fashioned but tirelessly practical) mom in on the fun a little earlier. I’d like to argue for giving your community a chance to come around.

    I kept my fretful mom in the dark about a lot of the planning just because I wanted to pull it off and not have her worry about it. And now I’ve found that she’s my biggest evangelist to the extended family for our low-impact, low-waste wedding, encouraging everyone to walk from the hotel or take a bike taxi, researching best prices for compostable barware.

    The wedding wiki in my brain is so complex and nested with information, it felt too exhausting to let anyone in lest they question my decisions. But I’m pretty glad I did.

    • Roadrunner

      I really needed to hear this. I’m a very organized, very pro-planning person, and so is my mom. I like making decisions and I like being in control of a plan. But I should probably let the woman who taught me how to organize do some organizing herself :)

  • Jo

    “However, realize that if your wedding includes a lot of choices that are non-standard, you’re going to have to budget for that; WIC is so prevalent that it is often cheaper.”

    I also found that trying to strike a balance between a “vintage” styled, total DIY, backyard, basically-free wedding… and a WIC wedding was HARD. Because the path is not well-trodden (though you ladies are doing a bang up job of changing that), it means every decision requires more thought, more research, more energy. At least, it did for us. Want to find eco-friendly bridesmaid dresses that match? Good luck! Want to do printed invitations with e-RSVPs? It just takes more work. Which doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it. But I did find myself a few times going, “Wow, it would just be so much easier if we didn’t care and went WIC/whatever style.” But we didn’t, and we loved the crap out of our wedding, and wouldn’t change a thing. We just got a few extra gray hairs by doing it that way.

    • Jennifer Lyn

      aaaah! we did printed invitations with e-RSVP’s that basically said ‘Please go to our wedding website at this url to RSVP’ and we’re still waiting on them. Granted it’s still about a month and a half out. (It’s kind of making me crazy though).

      • SpaceElephant

        Yes. We had a Google Voice number for the non-tech-savvy and our wedding website for the internet-capable. We were psyched because our invitation was then just one card, front and back, without a bunch of inserts and no need for little rsvp cards. What we didn’t anticipate was a LOT of people just NOT GETTING how to rsvp for a wedding if there isn’t a little card, even though we were very clear about the phone number or web options. I was shocked. I mean, everyone knows how to use a phone, right?

        Which is all to say, rock on with your e-rsvps, but be prepared for people to not get it. Some hand-holding might be needed.

        • We did postcards for both the save the date and the invitation, with a website RSVP. My mother exclaimed, “You will not send postcards out for invitations,” to which I replied, “Watch me.”

          And that became the exact way I explained being practical. “You’re going to have diamond-studded swans sing your first dance song?” (eye bulge). “Yep. Watch me.”

          It’s like I dare you to eff with my plans, bitches.

          • Hahahaha ” I dare you to eff with my plans, bitches.” I LOVE it!

          • Postcards are awesome! We used them for the invitations, the guestbook, and the thank you cards. (We bought the thank you postcards while on our honeymoon. Which meant a bunch of people thought we spent our honeymoon writing thank you notes. Yeah, right. The Canadian stamp on a St. Lucia postcard didn’t give it away??) Anyway, people seemed to like them, and I loved them.

          • Morgan: The postcard thank you cards idea is brilliant!

        • Marina

          Yeah. We had to be pretty flexible about our e-rsvps. If someone reserved a hotel room, I took that as an RSVP. If someone told me they bought plane tickets, that totally counted. If a friend of my mother’s told her they were coming… well, I asked her to ask them to please send me a quick email just to confirm. ;) And anyone I really wasn’t sure about, I called personally. Hey, I invited them because I love them, having an excuse for a phone call is always good!

          • Calling THEM is definitely a good thing to do sometimes. Sometimes, people honestly forget, when they stick the invite on the side of their fridge to remember to talk to their spouse about it or whatever, and calling them is a good way to check in and get a better count. I suppose it could be awkward at times, but it wasn’t for us. Better yet, get someone else to do it, like your mother if it’s your mother’s family, or a college friend if it’s the people you hung out with during undergrad.

          • I took pretty much the same method. And called those who no news of their attendance had trickled to me.

            They were some odd conversations. I asked, are you able to join us? They would say something non comital like, “We probably won’t be able to.” Sorry, I am not personally offended if you can’t come but I would like a definitive yes or no answer!

        • AnotherCourtney

          We’re doing this exact same thing! So many of my friends confessed, as we were ordering our invitations with the typical RSVP card insert, that a lot of people never return those little postage-paid cards, and you end up calling them anyway. So we decided to cut out the postage, printed our GV number (set to go straight to voicemail), and set up an RSVP form/spreadsheet on our website.

          It was a ton of work getting the website piece of it working correctly, but we’ve had a ton of success with it so far. Most of the people we still have to call are people we kind of expected to have to chase down from the beginning. Maybe the key is the format? On our website, they just have to type in their name, then click Yes or No. I’ve seen others that are just free-form, which I expect might intimidate people a little more.

      • I told one of my friends we weren’t going to invites just an email with a link to the wedding website. She was sort of sad and said, “But everyone likes something to put on their refrigerator.”
        …And she’s sort of right. So we’re doing postcards with a picture of us on it through Vista print: a save the date postcard/invitation with our website. That’s it. (Oh yeah, and I’m passing them out at the holidays so I only have to mail a few.)

    • Jo: Yes, it can be tough. But it actually worked out really, really well for us, and was more work/research but way less expensive to do it the way we did (not-very-WICy, DIY-heavy, vintage-look).

  • Jo


  • Mihaela

    Keeping things on a need-to-know basis is something I’ve been learning. I was just so excited about some of my wedding choices that I wanted to share them with some people interested in the wedding, but they were mostly poorly received. I don’t have very thick skin, so it was like receiving a blow to the stomach. It’s hard to be graceful in response to “Why are you doing that – it’s a terrible idea!” even after an explanation on my part.

    My biggest cheerleaders have been recent brides or brides still planning their wedding. They had/will be having pretty traditional weddings, but even they received flak for some of their choices, and so have been sympathetic listeners.

    As a side note, I did email invitations, and although there was some confusion, it didn’t make people any less likely to respond that they will be coming. And really, that’s a lot more important than if they actually liked the invitations.

    • RubberDuckie

      I’m so sorry people are being unsupportive. Bubblebursters are no fun, but good for you to sticking to your guns!

      I’m in the pre-engaged state, but my boyfriend and I have already agreed that we’re just going to keep some stuff to ourselves just because. His side of the family (especially his mom and sister) is VERY opinionated and feel the need to give tons of unsolicited advice… we literally shook on it: We will tell them NOTHING until he and I agree it’s what we want and we know we’re going to go through with it (ex: catering, location, etc).

      We just *know* that as soon as they hear “Well, we’re thinking xyz….but we’re not sure” it’s like sharks smelling blood in the water and they feel the need to get their $.02 in. Not like I don’t value input sometimes, but yeah……you know? It’s “OH!! You know what you should do?? Insertoutrageoussuggestionhere”.

    • Ashley B

      As an over-sharer myself, I totally understand. I sometimes feel totally discouraged and steamrolled by my mom and sister, but I just keep reminding myself that my fiance and I are making the final call and they’re just trying to help, in their own special way.

  • Alyssa,
    This was so on-point that I came thisclose to missing my light rail stop, absorbed in my Google Reader, when I was ALREADY LATE FOR WORK.
    I also had missed the ATP on getting started wedding planning. Printing it and bringing it to our Friday Happy Hour date!

  • Molly

    As a newly engaged lady, thank you for this! I suggested having my brothers stand on my side because, you know, they’re MY brothers, and my fiance was like, “That is not done.” Sigh. I’m generally a pretty traditional person and as such, I like a lot of the pretty WIC things, so it’s especially confusing for people when I like something against that mainstream thinking. Being a unique person with independent thoughts is hard sometimes. :-)

    • SpaceElephant

      That IS done. We did it. If your fiance wants pictures I can send them. And the world did not come to an end, lightning did not strike us, there were no frogs falling from the sky.

      My husband’s sister was SO HAPPY to be included and standing up with her brother, and he was SO HAPPY to have her there. And that was that.

    • Meredith

      I stood on my brother’s side for his wedding (and his wife’s brother stood on her side) and people were INSANELY confused. They kept asking if I was a bridesmaid and when I said ‘No, I’m a groomswoman’ I often got a ‘why would you do that?’ and my response was the same as yours ‘because, um, he’s MY BROTHER’.

    • My brother had a best woman. And it was perfect. She definitely belonged on “his side” of things.

    • We did it too! I had bridesmaids and a bridesman. Or a wedding boy. Or whatever. It rocked.

    • AnotherCourtney

      We’re doing the traditional female bridesmaids and male groomsmen, but we’re changing up where they stand. His sister is one of my bridesmaids, but she’s standing on his side. My best friend is one of his groomsmen, so he’s standing on mine.

      Maybe that’s a good compromise for you? We’re both pretty traditional, too, so we like the traditional wedding party, but once you get to the ceremony, you can ask them to stand wherever you want them to. I think we’re actually going to end up with three guys and three girls on each side.

    • I was my brother’s best man and a groomsmen for another male friend from high school. LOVED IT. Only hitch was my brother’s wife first approved my tuxedo-like dress (that had a triangle of white in the bodice) and then changed her mind after I bought it because she wanted to be the only one with any white. I learned my lesson and wore an LBD when I was a groomsmen at my friend’s wedding.

      I’ve also been a bridesmaid in a few weddings where I grew up as close friends to the groom, but moved way before they started dating their wives. I was always very honored to be included, but I have to admit – it led to some weird moments. I participated in all the bridal activities (bridal shower, bachelorette party, rehearsal dinner sleep-over, getting ready) with a bunch of girls I didn’t know as well. It was an opportunity to get to know the bride better, but she’s often surrounded and a bit stressed so it’s not as nice as 1:1 time with the bride before or after the wedding would have been. I also missed being able to hang out with the groom and his friends and family who are the ones I’m close to and grew up with. In one instance, as much as I tried not to make this happen, the bride ended up not being herself as much at the bachelorette because she didn’t feel comfortable telling all her ex-boyfriend tales with me there. That being said – all I remember now is how touched I am they included me. So for those leaning towards the more traditional gender breakdowns, do what you feel best about it, just be prepared for brief seconds of awkwardness.

    • Yet another one who had a man of honor. He isn’t my brother by birth, but might as well be.

      And honestly, Molly, I think you might have hit on something as someone who is more traditional. Any of my more non-WIC choices were met with some hesitation by my family but then someone would say, “Well, you know how Alyssa is…” and everyone would agree and go about their business. (I must mention it wasn’t neccessarily a compliment. The imiplication was less, “She’s got her own style,” and more, “You know how she’s gonna do weird sh*t whether we like it or not….”) Here’s to hoping that you are allowed to let your quirks out amongst the roses, tulle and glitter! :-)

      And remind that lovely fiance of yours that it IS done. Anyone who would dare complain/gossip of your choice attendant is going to be compaining/gossiping about SOMETHING whether you like it or not, so might as well make yourselves happy and screw the naysayers!

    • My husband was pretty against having mixed genders on his side initially even though he has two sisters and some of his closest friends are women. And this is an atraditional guy who was up for having pizza at our wedding from the get go. But that’s just because he had never seen a wedding party any other way than women on the bride’s side and men on the groom’s. It took him awhile to realize that it wasn’t a big deal and then in the end had a groomswoman.

      So just give your fiance some time to process the idea. Show him so pictures of other couples who had mixed genders in their wedding party. He might come around after he gets used to it.

    • Molly

      Thanks for the back-up, ladies! My cousin did it at her wedding, too, with her male best friend as a “bridesman.” I’m not married (ha! Get it?) to the idea of having my brothers stand on my side because while they are MY brothers, they will be part of OUR family, and the mixing of families is kind of the point of a wedding. I’ll just put this conversation on the ever-growing list of things we need to talk about. Thank goodness for APW!

  • Tegan

    I can tell you from experience, PLAN how you’re going to address stuff with your family. Also, have a plan for when they bring up things you haven’t thought of. It saves you from your mother dropping the bomb of “oh we’re going wedding dress shopping today!” with a cheerful glint in her eyes, as you try to stammer that you want to make your wedding dress.

    Let’s just say that with planning, I would not have had 3-year-old tantrums with my mother (both of us being 3-year-olds) about stupid shit like not inviting people I haven’t seen in years (although actually, the wedding dress issue was one of the worst… it involved my mother flat out “informing” me that I really don’t sew that well, so I should just pony up the cash since I’ll need to anyway). <– would not have happened if I'd been ready and/or expecting to have that conversation!

    • AnotherCourtney

      I’m so happy to hear I’m not the only person who’s had 3-year-old tantrums with mom during wedding planning!

  • Amanda

    My motto that works for all things financial “you vote with your money”. If glitter is important, vote with your money, if LGBT friendly ( or rather LGBT excited and supportive and awesome ) vendors are important, vote with your money.

    • Emmy

      Thats why we are happy that we are funding the wedding on our own. If your are funding, they inevitably will have a greater voice. Don’t want to hear them veto your choices, don’t accept the cash. Thats how I see it anyway. But easier said than done for some people.

  • SpaceElephant

    I found out after the fact that my mother had worried for months about all sorts of things I had mentioned to her in a “We are considering…” kind of way. The day after the wedding she said “I really thought the *popcorn and lemonade before the ceremony/actor friend as officiant/ice cream sandwiches for dessert/lawn games during the reception etc etc* was going to be AWFUL, but it actually WORKED!”

    I thank the stars that I had had no idea she had all these worries, but I do wish I had let her know more of our plans so maybe she wouldn’t have been so convinced that the wedding would be a disaster.

    Though, knowing my mom, she would have worried anyway. She really never knows what to expect from my husband and I ;-)

    • Ice cream sandwiches for dessert? That’s awesome.

  • You are right. My husband picked me so he pretty much knew what he was getting. Explaining to him was easy. My family also knows me, so that wasn’t too hard either. Plus my mom and I had been talking since I was little that she’d had her wedding so I got to have mine. His family knows him and the type of girl he’d end up with so they weren’t too surprised by much. My close friends who helped are also on team practical so that was easy too. I did write a manifesto for my bridal posse, but that was more because I thought it would be fun. And everything and everyone else we just didn’t bother explaining.

    Our wedding was a reflection of how we live our lives – practically (that’s “we live practical lives” not that “our wedding was practically, but not really, how we live”). So I don’t think anything we did was any huge surprise to anyone. Going full blown TLC WIC might have surprised people.

  • This “you’ll realize your mom probably had a Practical Wedding. ” , totally haha. I guess we were extremely lucky because our parents I am risking to say, were way more laid back than us. They were studying in Colchester and went to city hall, from there to the supermarket and from there to the park (with 20 friends or so) , got champagne, cheese and stuff and then picnicked. .
    So when we were like, umm we’re thinking of a short day reception, for brunch, with no seating plan and lots of desserts, they thought it was a good idea. Also for things like instead of including their full names on the invitations (which made it super long), they were ok with adding the -“together with their parents” line. So I can’t really offer any wisdom, except to say like Annie mentioned before that the essential is the marriage and there is an ample spectrum of possibilities and it is about together finding what is best for each couple and family.

    • You’re lucky to have some awesome parents Amanda.

      I was just consulting with awesome clients last night and the mother of the bride came along. The bride is dead set on a simple, inexpensive, fun, outdoorsy wedding. Meanwhile mom’s talking about all the stuff she’s read in the magazines that you’re “supposed” to do including a proper DJ/band/shoes/dresses/signature drink/etc, right after telling me she was married in the back yard of the officiants house and had a party in her backyard.

      WIC makes people nutters.

      • Sometimes I wonder if it’s the stress of wanting SO much better for your child; but forgetting that YOUR version of better may not be THEIRS.

  • Libby

    When people ask about our wedding and the planning and all the detail stuff and I lay my practical cards on the table and they get that bewildered-nodding-and-smiling-but-why-aren’t-you-doing-X look on their face, I just repeat to them my mantras: “At the end of the day, we’ll be married, and that’s what matters; flowers are flowers, they’ll be pretty no matter what; all I care about is having my best friends stand up with me and witness my vows, not that their shoes match.” People generally follow my verbal cues in these situations, and if I act like it’s the most normal thing in the world, so do they.

    I think of it as my own little personal resistance against the encroachment of the WIC. And really, who can argue with those points? No one does. Works for me.

    • Anna

      Same here. I get the impression people are often repeating what they’ve been told or what they have heard through all the dialogue surrounding weddings without REALLY thinking about it. When i explain my choices rationally and why *whatever* is a practical option for us and *other thing* is not actually a MUST DO…. i often see them pause. give it real thought, and then agree.

      not always, but often.

  • McSchnieders

    Can I get an AMEN for this post? It so absolutely expresses what every bride needs to know and be prepared to deal with. Weddings (and the family and friends that go along with them), for all their joy and beauty, can be painful, annoying, frustrating and just plain ugly. It’s good to have such solid advice on how to explain your choices without being defensive.

    As a bride-to-be who has gotten quite a bit of flak for not doing things the way they “should” be done or are “usually” done it’s great to have such a resource available and honestly, next time a friend tells me I have to have a bachelorette-party-weekend-in-Vegas-I-don’t-want-complete-with-plastic-penis-necklaces-I-hate I will use the tools here to make my point in a respectful but firm way. Thanks again APW!

    • You could always offer to compromise and have plastic penis earrings. Or a veil.


  • I think the best tips are to be enthusiastic about the decisions you and your partner make for your wedding, listen and acknowledge others’ ideas whether or not you have any intentions to consider them, rehearse what you might say in defense of your practical choices and when you speak in defense of your practical choices do not get defensive. So many people just haven’t been so lucky as us to discover and become a part of APW. You’re helping to educate them about practicality, so be patient with your students! Don’t worry too much, either. If you’re a regular APW reader, then you won’t easily lose sight of your desire for a practical wedding.

    • be patient with your students! hahahaha love it.

  • This is amazing! I am dealing with the family issues right now. I like the idea of apologizing rather than asking permission. It makes me a little sad though, because I *want* to share all of our awesome wedding ideas with our families, but we don’t want the controversy. Luckily we have very supportive friends. And thank you for allowing me to have chair covers, seriously! It’s an idea I’ve been struggling with due to costs, but dangit if those ballroom chairs aren’t FUGLY. Thank you so much for this post.

    • FawMo

      The beautiful things about APW is that we are generally pro-pretty. We just have a holistic view of what pretty can be.

      If the fugly is making you funky, smash the fugly.

  • Emily

    When it comes to handling well meaning family members, I use a subversion tactic. See, my mom and my sister and my future MIL are all wedding veterans who are prone to the kind of totally well-meaning but completely unhelpful suggestion/criticisms that drive me batty. You know the kind. After considerable debate, budgeting and conversation with your partner, you tell them that you’ve settled on a venue, and that it can only handle 90 guests, so you’re working to keep the guest list down, and they respond with a lecture about how important it is to have family around you and how the ONE thing they regretted/loved about their own weddings was how many/few of their family and friends they were able to invite.

    This drives me insane, because I need them to recognize that I’ve thought about all of this, and this is the decision we’re making, and it’s the best choice for us based on all the relevant factors (desire for a small wedding, wanting to get married outside, budget, etc.). I just want them to get on board, dammit! I don’t need the “I know better” speech today.

    So I subvert. Whenever we have to let family know about a major wedding-planning decision, I come up with some kind of task or request of advice on a related issue. So when I told my sister we aren’t doing attendants, I immediately asked her if she would help me come up with a fun, easy way to invite my girlfriends and female relatives to join us the morning of the wedding for a little “getting ready” shindig. When I told my mom I didn’t want to wear a veil (making my veil was something I know she was looking forward to), I asked her if I could carry a handkerchief she inherited from my grandmother in the ceremony.

    I’ve found I get fewer “I know better” speeches if I can distract them with something that shows that I have in fact thought this through. And more importantly, it’s a way to make sure they know they are included and valued, even if I’ve made an unexpected or unconventional choice. I really think that’s where a lot of this unsolicited and unhelpful advice comes from — the desire to participate and feel needed.

    Sometimes it gets exhausting, having to anticipate their reactions and think of ways to ease them into an idea. But I think it’s also a valuable way of keeping myself aware of what’s really important in this process. We want to have a wedding that feels right to us, but a big part of the purpose of the wedding is to bring us and our families closer together.

    • I used the same distraction technique! It took me a while to learn, though. After my mother’s third attempt at bringing up how I will regret not having bridesmaids, I said, “Oh, that reminds me, I need to ask my brothers if they will be ushers. You think they will be okay with that, don’t you?” She got really interested in what they would do as ushers, and she hasn’t brought up the attendant issue since. :)

  • Our wedding is 8 days away and it’s a pretty good combination of DIY/DIT practical decisions and traditional WIC ones. For the DIY practical choices we made cookies for party favours, my friend is making our bundt wedding cakes, we have friends playing acoustic guitar for the ceremony, another friend is arranging bouqets and boutonnieres and did a ton of graphic design work for us, my sister made all the crystal pearl jewellery for all the ladies and my ring bearer’s dress, another friend is doing my makeup as well as my bridesmaids’, another friend designed our postcard invitations for really cheap and we did an email RSVP with a phone number for those without email. We based our wedding colours (black and ivory with red rose accents) on what the hotel had for linens and planned our simple decor of red and ivory silk rose petals to go in a circle around the hotel’s mirror and candle centrepieces. We got an amazing deal on photography from a kick ass photog friend (listed as one of the top 30 wedding photogs in Canada this year) and we’re having cocktail reception with a late lunch instead of a full dinner. Our private family dinner falls in between the ceremony and reception and we got an amazing deal at a local cafe that we love ($36 for 3 soup/salad starter, entree and dessert and coffee buffet including GST and gratuity). Since we’re both full time students we are only paying for the wedding party, MCs and parents and everyone else has agreed to pay for their own meal.

    Most of our decisons were well received and supported since everyone knows we are poor students, but my future MIL was worried about the long break (about 5 hrs) between the ceremony and the reception and told me she wished we could do a full sit down dinner. Craig and I were both very firm about the private dinner plan because we wanted to have a big party (185-190 guests) but also enjoy a 3 hour *oasis* with our closest family and friends. We’d originally considered emailing invitations but that was the ONLY thing my mom balked at so we went with postcard invitations instead. We originally planned to forgo a cake and party favours but I guess the WIC got to me on those points because we are doing them now, but we’re doing a very unconventional cake and we chose cookies for the party favours so guests have a snack during the 7-8pm cocktail hour (in addition to fruit and cheese at the bar).

    Another decision that we made that was contested was to pay for all non-alcoholic beverages but have our guests pay for their own alcohol at the cash bar. We made this decision because even with the financial assistance from our parents we didn’t have room in the budget for booze and we figured for any other event our friends and family would buy their own drinks. My reasoning was that I would rather spend money on amazing photos that will last forever than getting everyone drunk…Well, my in-laws didn’t like that and pushed a bit, but we were firm, so they decided they would cover the booze they wanted in addition to what they already gave us. So that worked out well. However, lots of guests were confused by our request for formal attire on our invite (one of my uncles wasn’t going to come because of it), so we had to explain to please dress your best.

    As for the WIC dictated *traditional* wedding stuff, (I said traditional with the stars because my Grama who got married 50 years ago is just floored by all the different things that we’re doing and can’t stop telling me how different it all is- she was married in 1961 in a hat, and skirt and jacket suit), my dress probably falls in the princess/ballroom category because it’s strapless, lace up back, organza, and I wear a hoop with it, but it is different because there is a lot of black on the bodice and back. Plus my mom bought me SUPER expensive crystal covered shoes! We are also doing the bouquet and garter toss and speeches and a slideshow. But we are not doing a father/daughter dance or wedding party dance. We’re also have a rehearsal dinner, but my mom is just doing a BBQ at her house for it.

    So I guess ours is an amalgamation of DIY/DIT, practical budgeting and WIC stuff. As you can probably tell, I love sharing our plans and trying to help other people with theirs, and I like talking about the details- mostly because I think we made a lot of money conscious decisions that we’re very happy with. But the best way, I’ve found, to communicate our decisions and why we’ve made them is through our wedding blog which I email to all of our guests whenever I write a new post. It’s a bit hard to keep up with, but I will also post pictures and thank yous and whatnot on it. But through it, I have been able to express, without in-your- face opposition, all of the reasons behind our decisions. Not a lot of people comment on the actual blog but I have received a ton of emails and in person compliments on it and a lot of support. If your guests know why you make the decisions you make, they are much more understanding and appreciative.

  • Marina

    You know what really helped me with my family?

    Getting my mom to read the “Offbeat Bride” book.

    ‘Cause the thing is, my parents are hippies from way back, so I was totally taken aback when all the WIC expectations started to come out of the woodwork. So I loaned my mom my copy of Offbeat Bride with the recommendation “This is really off the wall and a fun read”, no more pressure than that. Turns out she liked it so much she started reading it out loud to my dad every night (because it IS a fun read) and then both of them started suggesting things like having a wedding in a whiteboard factory or riding down the aisle on an elephant. (Seriously.)

    I think what they needed was just a way to visualize how these non-WIC ideas would work. Everyone has this movie-style image in their heads of What A Wedding Is, and sometimes no matter how well-intentioned they are they just can’t get past that mental image. Having someone else lay out a well-written picture of just what some of the alternatives might look like can really open that up.

    This might not work if your parents are super duper traditionalists. On the other hand, your ideas will probably seem a lot less wacky compared to the underwater scuba wedding that Offbeat Bride starts off with. So maybe worth a try anyhow… ;) (And when Meg’s book comes out in January, there will be another fantastic resource to get family to read!!!)

    • OMG best parents EVER.

      • Marina

        They really, really are. And yet somehow we still fought about stupid stuff during wedding planning! Go figure, right…?

        • I think stupid disagreements are inevitable. It’s just the nature of an unavoidably high stress situation. But seriously. Whiteboard factory and elephants. Go rents!

        • Awesome parents are still your parents.

          My parents are amazing and I am physically unable to be in the same living space with them for more than 3 hours without rolling my eyes or sighing. More than 48 hours, and you can guarantee there will be at least one car fight. :-)

    • Marina

      The other thing I’d suggest is focusing on what you DO want, rather than what you DON’T. It’s much, much easier to explain why having an outdoor wedding fits your values and aesthetics than why you don’t want a church wedding. And it makes it harder for other people to argue with you–if you tell them you just love cheesecake and are really looking forward to eating it at your wedding, it’s a little harder for them to tell you that you just have to have a fondant cake you don’t like the taste of! I learned this one pretty late in my wedding planning process and I wish I’d taken it to heart a lot sooner.

  • Mimi

    I love you all. Three weeks out from our “Big Special Day” and this was just the post I needed to encourage me to take a deep breath.The past seven months have been a constant struggle between what I don’t want (almost everything, I’d be thrilled with a big picnic), what my fiance wants (practicality, but will occasionally toss up a completely traditional thing that I didn’t want but turns out he REALLY DOES), and what my parents want (apparently to one-up their friends’ daughters’ weddings? I can only speculate).

    So I was a little slow about figuring this out, but I finally got into the groove of nodding and smiling and saying “Sure, we’ll look into that!” instead of “Ugh, no way, that’s totally unnecessary.” I’m looking forward to the wedding day when I narcissistically believe that our joy and happiness will completely outshine the lack of WIC-standard elements that we “lack”.

  • Thank you for this post full of wise words, Alyssa! Luckily, my mom totally understands and embraces the practical idea. I was pretty surprised when my dad didn’t. I was telling Mom my idea to make a lemon cake for the wedding (a family recipe and boyfriend’s self-proclaimed favorite cake). She thought it was great, but Dad insisted we need a “wedding cake” and said “Fine, I will not eat any.” When he has eaten lemon cake in the past. Mom told him he was being ridiculous.

    I’m slightly worried about my future MIL’s reaction, though. The boy thinks she will be on board, but neither of her other children want to get married, so I think she might have expectations. Guess we’ll see when we get there (pre-engaged now). And by then, I will have Meg’s book to throw at her, plus this post!

    • Can I come to your wedding?!? I adore lemon cake…

      It’s funny (and frustrating) when you find out what your parents focus on for your wedding, isn’t it? Remind your dad that any kind of cake at a wedding is a wedding cake, just like any guest at a wedding is a wedding guest…and any wedding guest who complains about the wedding cake is mean and shouldn’t get any. Fondant and funky chalky roses do not a wedding cake make…

  • AnotherCourtney

    Two great things that have worked for me so far in wedding planning:

    1. I realized that “I’m thinking of…” to my mom means “tell me all the reasons I shouldn’t do this.” So now, if it’s something I/we really want, we make the decision and THEN tell her about it. She’s almost always super excited that we’re happy with something we found, and it cut out 90% of the negativity that was driving me crazy. Win.

    2. The single best thing I’ve done for my sanity since I got engaged was to attend my cousin’s wedding. Seriously, after months of comparing different shades of the same color, coming up with clever centerpiece ideas, over-analyzing the font on my invitations, I spent an AWESOME and fun day surrounded by family, celebrating the marriage of one of my favorite people. At one point, my mom turned to me and asked if I had even looked at the centerpieces yet. I hadn’t. Because stuff like that, while pretty, really just doesn’t matter. And now, when people ask me about details or which flowers I’m picking for this, or which colors I’m using for that, I just shrug and tell them exactly that: It. Doesn’t. Matter. I’m getting married, and anything else I plan for that day just pales in comparison. I’ve gotten a few confused looks, but it almost always results in a knowing smile and a head nod.

    • Libby

      “At one point, my mom turned to me and asked if I had even looked at the centerpieces yet. I hadn’t.”

      For sure. When my fiance and I (okay, when *I*) start fretting over some detail, like if our thank-you notes coordinate well enough with our invitations, I just take a step back and think of the thank-you notes from weddings we’ve attended in the past year. I remember the words… definitely not the stationery.

      One of the best things I’ve done while planning–thrown a party for someone else. We hosted a shower for friends, and it was a really needed reminder that we’ll have our whole lives to throw parties and serve neato food and cocktails and craft beer and have sweet little flower arrangements and fun details and all that shizz. I don’t have to go crazy trying to pack everything into ONE celebration.

    • YES! Not that long ago, I went to a wedding that was neither “blog-worthy” nor did it have any stylish WIC details. And it was AMAZING.

      I laughed, I cried, I got drunk and I did the Cupid Shuffle. It was the best time I’d had in I don’t know how long….

  • I think my biggest issue with my mom is going to be having a destination wedding. She and my dad totally had a Practical Wedding (actually, I should get my hands on a scanner and convince her to do a vintage wedding: she totally looked 70s flower child with her short white dress and yellow flowers in her hair) but the whole family was there. We’re holding our wedding 1,000 miles away from my family’s home base and there are certainly going to be people who can’t make it…and THAT’s where she’ll fight me using the words “Because family is important.”
    I so hope I can explain to her that Forrest’s family is smaller and we do want to keep things balanced. And that we can’t afford a giant wedding. And that we love to travel and that’s important to us. I hope. I hope. I hope.

  • Carbon Girl

    Well done Alyssa. I feel like this column gives your best advice yet.

  • Sabrina

    I had that first awkward conversation with my dad about my wedding last night. He is far away and I hardly ever see him but he just didnt get my wedding vision at all because it was a little offbeat. So I literally took the APW philosophy and sent it to him. I said, this is what my wedding is about at the heart of it. And I think that he understood. Thank you APW!

  • this column pretty much read my mind (and totally let me off the hook for some things i’ve been trying to write for a wedding grad post). it does seem like the best advice for wedding is that you really don’t need to listen to everyone’s advice. what a conundrum.

    this is exactly why i love a practical wedding and i’m still here reading 6 months after my wedding. smart ladies i tell you.

  • Ah, we learned about keeping things need to know the hard way :D After some of our plans got derailed early on, and things were opioned out of the wedding or into the wedding, my maid of honor set me straight, and it was sooo simple. Just stop telling people things.

    That’s why 3 people know about my surprise for my fiance, of a back to the future cake topper. Because if more people knew about it, oh boy, I’d never hear the end of it.

    One other thing to keep in mind is don’t get swayed by terms like “you hate to have” or “there’s now way that is part of a wedding” These words can sometimes sway you into snap decisions, kind of like shiny packs of gum at the checkout counter. :D

  • Another wedding detail that can be “need to know” – the when and the where of it all. Otherwise you end up with people inviting themselves.

  • april

    I did a lot of smiling and nodding, “mmm-hmmm… Thank you – that sounds lovely but we’re doing [insert free will decision] instead.”

    All the while I was saying to myself: “Eff-off jerk-wad – a pox on your family.”

    All opinions aside: my husband and I STILL have our friends that attended our wedding telling us what fun they had; how much they loved the location, that the music was so good they danced their butts off and had to wear flip flops for two days afterward because their feet were so sore, and that the amount of love and good vibes in the room was so powerful it almost knocked ’em out. I think we did OK. ;)

  • Ris

    Great timing for this post – I’m a long-time reader, but this is the very first post I’ve read since BECOMING ENGAGED!

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  • Alex W.

    I just got married a few weeks ago and I struggled with this same thing. Don’t know if it’s been mentioned, but I ended up doing a lot of “That’s an interesting idea, I’ll keep that in mind.” Honestly, trying to be direct with ALL of the WIC folks, felt like way too much effort. That kept them quiet and it didn’t make me feel like I had to explain all the time why I was doing things “differently.”

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