Ask Team Practical: Year-End Wrap-Up by Alyssa Mooney So when the APW team was debating the last Ask Team Practical column of the year, I suggested we do something fun. So, I asked Alyssa if she’d do a little best of (and heck, worst of) wrap up of APW in 2010. Which, if I’m being frank, has been quite a year. Well, the lady out-did herself. She looked up all the emails she sent me this year (because the way Alyssa got this job in the first place was by sending me the worlds most hilarious emails whenever people were really mean to me in the comments). Anyway, girlfriend out did herself, toasting 2010, and APW, and all of you. So, without further ado, enjoy: We’re doing something different for our last “Ask Team Practical” of the year. A little goodbye to last year and hello to 2011. My favorite things from 2010: Elopements! Is it just me, or have there been a LOT of elopements this year? Elopements aren’t what you do when you have no family. The idea may inspire thoughts of couples sneaking out in the dead of the night to marry against their parents’ wishes, but that’s not what they really are. They are wonderful, amazing, detailed, simple and totally worthwhile. AND, shall we say, glorious. Diversity! It’s nice to sit around and think we live in one lovely little tolerant world, but honestly, we don’t. As half of an interracial couple, (and the child of one; that’s my adorable parents in my grad post!) I can tell you that there are still very very stupid people out there. And the WIC perpetuates that by rarely featuring mixed couples or even ethnic couples in general. It makes it seem like there are only White Protestants getting married these days. I love that APW keeps featuring couples that take that stereotype and punch it in the face. Gay couples!! Honestly? For me? LGBTQ marriage is marriage at its most pure. Due to legal restrictions, there is no real reason to get married other than you just love each other SO DANG MUCH. I’m not knocking anyone who gets married for more practical reasons or people who don’t get married at all, but when you have to fight for your right be married? I mean, really and truly, marching on Washington and holding up signs, fight for your marriage? That elevates everything about your marriage. I look forward to the day that gay marriage is just marriage, but right now it’s on a pedestal for me. Besides, our APW couples are just gorgeous. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Dress. Y’ALL. I LOOOOOVE Sisterhood of the Traveling Dress. And the brides that participate, especially the ones giving away their dress. You guys, you know you’re not just giving a dress away. You’re sharing all those lovely memories, good karma and fuzzy bunny feelings that are all wrapped up in that fabric. You’re giving piece of mind that one of the most stressful times in wedding planning is taken care of. At the very least you’re giving yourself one less piece of crap to haul around after you move. At the most, you’re giving a gift of beauty and a piece of your heart to that other lovely bride. And brides that get dresses, keep in contact with the giver! Send sneak peek updates! Be honest with them. Tell them how much you love the dress, tell them if the dress doesn’t fit quite right. They are part of your bridal brigade now, and they wanna know. Oh, Sisterhood…Gah, I just want to hug y’all and feed you cookies. Our amazing sponsors. Seriously, APW is not created in a vacuum, there are lots of people behind the scenes that make it happen in lots of little ways. And I’m not talking about Lauren, David and I. The amazing sponsors are what help pay the bills and allow Meg to breathe just a little. Plus, have you checked them out?? When I dump my husband and finally convince Taye Diggs that we’re soul mates, I’ll be using APW sponsors. Gorgeous. Now some resolutions for 2011. 1.) No more saying “supposed to.” We are done with that phrase. Got it? It’s like “tacky,” it’s gone from the APW lexicon. “Supposed to” only applies to unavoidable bodily functions, as in “I’m supposed to breathe.” Or when followed by a reversal, like, “I’m supposed to wear white, but I say eff it and wore what I wanted to.” Forget that mess. As long as you’re not hurting anyone, you’re not SUPPOSED to do anything. To borrow a phrase from the inimitable Joe Clark/Morgan Freeman, “I don’t have to do nothin’ but stay black and die!” Y’all, you ain’t gotta do nothing’ but stay awesome and die. 2.) Let’s try to avoid taking opinions personally. A while ago, I emailed Meg and described APW this way, and it still applies. “This is how I see APW. A Practical Wedding is like that best friend who meets you at the bar after work and carefully listens to your woes. And then, after you’re done, APW leans across the table and says “Eff the b*tches.” No, I can’t, you protest and then APW spends the next hour giving you an impassioned opinion that not only empowers you but makes a very good case for effing the b*tches, and possibly setting them on fire. Now you either leave that discussion screaming, “EFF THE B*TCHES!!!” as you grab your pitchfork, or you may disagree and leave and do nothing. Or, most likely, you leave not screaming, but also not taking shit from anyone. And APW is cool with that too, but still thinks you should eff the b*tches.” What I love about APW is the passion that comes from people, on both sides of an issue. And while I do love a “You’re wrong!” “NO, YOU’RE wrong!” debate, there needs to be a point where we step back and go, “You’ve got your opinion. That’s cool. You’re still wrong, but that’s cool…” And that includes us. Meg, Lauren and I all speak from our own experience, as do the contributors. Our opinions are right for us and possibly right for you. Maybe. But an opinion that may include you in a generalization isn’t personally attacking you. (Unless they are. Then report it, because we’ll remove that sh*t post haste.) 3.) Resolve to apply APW lessons into real life. I call them APW lessons, but honestly it’s just life lessons from one amazing woman to another. Bring shame blasting into other areas of your life. Empower other women by supporting them in their business, in their life and their life decisions. Share your experiences on name changing, wedding planning, life living and let women in your life know that they do HAVE OPTIONS. And don’t just send them the link to a post; tell them about a vendor, invite them to a book club meeting, lend them your copy of Offbeat Bride or The Commitment, invite them to coffee and talk about your own experience and the hard stuff. And keep emailing content, contributing posts and commenting on APW. You never know how much your ideas and opinions can help someone else. A tiny idea can grow into something wonderful and you’ll be the catalyst! Ain’t that cool? 4.) I’m sneaking this one in on behalf of Lauren and Meg, but let’s resolve to ease up on the typo/grammar criticism. 80% of the content on here is generated by two people, and that’s daily posts, sometimes twice a day. (I’m giving me and contributors the other 20%, but that’s being kind of generous.) When a correction is needed it is greatly appreciated, but an email pointing it out will suffice. Mockery is just mean, unless it’s BAD. Then it’s warranted. But they both have full time jobs. Technically Meg has two, because APW is really a full time job. Plus poor Lauren has to wade through Meg’s 11pm flashes of brilliance and the mess that I write up and call “style,” so let’s be good to the girl, pretty please? Cause then she’ll leave us and we’ll be devastated and possibly write poetry to win her back. Feel free to mock me. I got a sweet gig and probably deserve to be mocked. 5.) Be proud of yourselves. APW has grown by leaps and bounds, even in just the last year! I forwarded Meg an email I sent that said, “I would like to kindly ask you to refrain from having APW be so damn interesting all the time. I’m not getting any work done, spending all day refreshing the page…. You keep this up and you’re going to start being like, “52 replies?!? WHAT?? Are people just LAZY today??” It’ll happen…” Know when that was from? MAY 2010. Seven months ago, we were joking about 52 comments being a slow day, thinking that was super impossible. And now 100 comments makes us think y’all didn’t even wake up and go to work. APW is getting huge; Meg has done a redesign, she’s hiring people, she’s running donation drives that blow some charity drives I’ve seen out of the dang water…it’s amazing. And it’s because of you guys. Pat yourself on the back, buy yourself something pretty and be ridiculously proud of the community you’ve helped create. You guys and your posts and comments are not only helping current baby brides, but future baby brides who will go through the archives and go, “It’s okay that I don’t care about chair covers? REALLY?” So that’s it for ATP 2010. Y’all be good to each other, stay awesome but don’t die over the holidays and ATP will see you in 2011! Alyssa Mooney Emeritus Staff Alyssa received a BA in Theatre and a minor in Gender Studies from Stephen F. Austin State University. She lives in Dallas, Texas, with her adorably red-neck husband, Maggie the Wonder Dog, and sassy baby Tater.