I Can’t Be Flawless and Low Maintenance at the Same Time

I care about the flowers. Deal with it.

Fuck You and the WIC Too | A Practical Wedding

When I first hopped on this train (the wedding-planning train, that is), I was convinced I would rock it out. I read Meg’s book with an air of confidence and a sense of urgency. Being practical? I got this, no problem folks. I’m not a fancy lady anyway. After choosing our venue at a sustainable, family-run goat farm, I gave myself one big pat on the back for my awe-inspiring practical wedding skills. I conquered the first steps of wedding planning with what I felt was my very rockin’, practical hat.

It was about the time we started considering options for flowers that I noticed there was more to wedding planning than just knocking out some big decisions. For one, my parents had their own, very generous, expectations on what they were willing to spend and the type of event they hoped to throw. More importantly, while I might not be a glitter and sparkles fancy girl, apparently I love me some locally grown flowers from independently owned, full-service florists (read: expensive). Not to mention, the words DIY have never really been huge in my family. So, the internal fight began. Fancy flowers we can afford, but don’t need? Or flowers I wasn’t too happy with, but felt were more reflective of a laid-back bride who was focused on the “important things”?

I chose the fancy flowers and cringed. I thought the confident, practical bride was slowly disappearing into the scary world of the wedding industry. On and on it went. We spent far more money on vendors than I imagined. I tried desperately to convince myself, “You’re still laid back, you don’t care! You only care about the important things.” All the while feeling deep down that I had failed in my quest to be the easygoing bride. I kept up my facade with friends and family as best I could: chill bride here to the rescue!

This bride doesn’t care about favors, of course not! Then one morning in the midst of trying to figure out how to make a Whole Foods cake work instead of the local baker who uses all organic ingredients (she uses eggs from her farm you guys), I had an epic wedding breakdown. As I expressed (between sniffles and tears) the pull I was feeling to do and be so many things at one time (put together a perfect wedding, but don’t spend too much money. Be the perfect calm and collected bride, but don’t be too fussy, etc.) my fiancé asked me to be honest with myself.

Honest that I do care about the fancy flowers, the signature drink, and the welcome bags. He made clear that honesty won’t make me one or the other: a laid-back bride or a crazy bride. In the end, our wedding will have a lot of aspects very typical to the wedding industry. But it will also be very us, and so completely filled with love.

Somewhere between choosing the fancy flowers but passing up the amazing cake for a perfectly tasty Whole Foods one, we’re working together to find our own balance. We ended the epic wedding breakdown with a dancing/karaoke rendition of CeeLo’s “Forget You” that went a little something like this: “We’re going to have fancy flowers and it’s going to be great, so fuck you, and fuck the WIC too.”

I realized this is an internal fight I’ve been having my whole life. I feel an expectation to be flawless and beautiful, while simultaneously easy going and low maintenance. So, my exercise for the rest of wedding planning is to practice honesty. Total, all in, raw honesty about what I care about and who I am. Acceptance that I’m okay, fancy flowers and all.

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  • Emma Klues

    “I realized this is an internal fight I’ve been having my whole life. I feel an expectation to be flawless and beautiful, while simultaneously easy going and low maintenance.”

    Enter the history and definition of “cool girls”: http://www.buzzfeed.com/annehelenpetersen/jennifer-lawrence-and-the-history-of-cool-girls?bffb

    I don’t agree with the whole article, but I like what it brings up in terms of the pressure you’re talking about to care and not care, look perfect but not try, etc. It’s confusing!

    • Carly

      I scrolled down before even finishing the article to post that link!

      So, seconded – really interesting points made. (And, who knew Buzzfeed could produce some pretty great, non-listicle content?!)

      • Laura C

        Believe it or not, Buzzfeed has some very good political reporters producing actual reporting, too.

      • Alyssa M

        I really liked what that article had to say about those conflicting pressures, but I definitely hated the tone it took regarding the actual women used as examples. It came off to me as tearing them down for being too “perfect.” Attacking the women themselves instead of just the stereotype/expectation.

        • Carly

          I would agree that there was a tone; the article for sure had its issues. I was just impressed at the source, and even more so that the content was pretty good. I thought it made some excellent points (that I, of course, can’t recall verbatim at the moment and should, theoretically, at least look like I’m working this morning ;).

        • Meg Keene

          Yeah. Agreed. We linked to that in the roundup last week (ha. I asked for discussion on Happy Hour, I should have known better and known it would show up somewhere else ;) Anyway, I think the concept is great, I thought the way it treated particular women was pretty awful (Jennifer Lawrence is awesome, and that’s ok.) I was more interested in the way we discard women when we’re done with them, then… discarding them.

        • Class of 1980

          Me too. I like that the article points out the conflicting pressures, but didn’t think it was reasonable when it came to what ended the “coolness” factor of the women.

          Come on now. If Clara Bow was found to be cheating left and right on her fiance, a lot of people aren’t going to think that’s cool.

          As for Jane Fonda, she lost the public’s love because of the things she said in Vietnam, which were pretty awful even if you were against the war (which any thinking person was). She’s apologized for it, but it seems a lot of military families just won’t forgive her.

          Those women shot themselves in the foot. The public will give you a lot of slack until you demonstrate a lack of integrity, narcissism, or pretentiousness.

          Jennifer Lawrence on the other hand, is great so far and I bet she won’t self-destruct.

    • Emma Klues

      Just wanted to say I echo what everyone’s saying! I love Jennifer Lawrence and didn’t love lots of the article specifics, but I thought they articulated that pull between extremes well. Shoulda jumped in on happy hour :)

  • Jenna

    “I realized this is an internal fight I’ve been having my whole life. I
    feel an expectation to be flawless and beautiful, while simultaneously
    easy going and low maintenance. So, my exercise for the rest of wedding planning is to practice honesty.
    Total, all in, raw honesty about what I care about and who I am.
    Acceptance that I’m okay, fancy flowers and all.”

    That right there. Honesty! Acceptance! Fancy flowers! :)

    I’ve been struggling with this, too–wanting some things that seem, in my head, like they don’t fit in with the whole “practical” thing because they’re things we could DIT but aren’t, or because we’re spending more money on the “fancy” stuff than we would if we’d just stick with the basics, or whatever. But I think part of the point of this whole thing is that each of us gets to decide what our own definition of “practical” is.

    For me, that self-catering *some* of our food (e.g., fruit, cheese, and raw veggie platters) but shelling out for the nice caterers who bring their own waitstaff for the rest (e.g., pasta and carving stations). I could not possibly get it together enough to provide delicious hot food (in stations! eep!) for 150 people at a midday event, so trying to do it wouldn’t be practical. But I can put together a delicious plate of fruits the night before without experiencing any stress, so that’s what I’m doing.

    Another example: We looked at several more rustic barn venues before ultimately selecting the really “fancy” one, because that is where we felt most comfortable. And I felt like a total sell-out for a little while, but I like knowing that I will be able to dance on the barn floor without ripping the bottom of my dress on anything (nightmare scenario: entire bottom of dress rips off during “Shout!” and everyone sees that I am wearing the biggest, most comfortable, flower-print granny panties anyone’s ever seen, because fuck you, Spanx!) and our guests can kick up their heels and kick off their shoes without any worries about splinters.

    Anyway, that’s a really long way of getting to this: being honest about what is important to YOU is what’s “practical”. I’m pretty sure Meg even said something of the sort in The Book. :)

    • jashshea

      Just scrolling down to say the exact same thing. Practical do everything cheaply and not giving a fuck about anything. It means taking what matters to you from traditional and/or current custom and creating something your way.

  • AG

    Thank you for this. You are definitely not alone here.

    When B and I first got engaged, we talked about what was important to us for the wedding, and both agreed that we’d focus the bulk of our budget on the “experience”. For us, that meant shelling out a bit more for food, bar, and music, and less on things like flowers and decor. Except, who was I kidding, I LOVE decor. So fast forward 8 months, and I am spending about an extra $1500 to have bistro lights strung up at the courtyard of our venue. I feel more than a little guilty spending that amount of money on string lights (!), but I felt like it was too much to DIT, and I WANT THOSE DAMN LIGHTS. I can maybe tell myself that the look and feel of the venue will contribute to the experience (it certainly will for me), but mostly I just have to accept that I’m the kind of person who will always splurge on things that are very sparkly and a little silly, and that won’t change for my wedding.

    • CallistaS

      We did the same thing. We added extra lights, and got patio heaters as part of our rentals. I also emailed the catering and asked if they could please add bread rolls and butter as well…because well, bread! We also switched from just having 2 types of wine to having 5. I also REALLY REALLY wanted the cheese and fruit spread at the cocktail hour because I just really love those and think that they’re good to have for everyone.

  • memery

    Along with everyone else it looks like, this quote really struck me and gave me an aha moment: “I realized this is an internal fight I’ve been having my whole life. I feel an expectation to be flawless and beautiful, while simultaneously easy going and low maintenance.”

    I mean: YES!! Good gracious. So THAT’s been my issue this whole time! I’m 7 weeks out from our wedding, and all of the big/ “important” stuff is done, but I’m at the point where I’m tackling the little things: programs, welcome bags, escort cards, menu, etc. And originally I was so blase about them all: who needs programs! What a waste! But now I’m thinking… I’d like my guests to know that that’s my amazing cousin up there playing the music, and who my boy’s family are, and how awesome my uncle is for performing the ceremony. THAT is why I’d do programs, and it doesn’t make me frivolous or “typical WIC bride” or anything.

    Basically confirms the APW wisdom: weddings have a way of distilling all of the conflicts in your life: even your internal ones, like this!

    • AG

      Yes! I’m at pretty much the same place in the planning. I was complaining to my sister (and MOH) about making welcome bags for the out-of-towners, saying that I didn’t feel like making them. She said, NOBODY feels like making them, but don’t you love getting them? Fine, yes.

      • This. A year and a half ago I went to a friend’s wedding out of state. Many of us traveled to her wedding. There was no welcome bag. It may sound petty but I was disappointed. Oh well.

  • Katelyn

    I’m sorry…did you reach into my soul and pull out ALL OF MY FEELINGS about wedding planning?!?!?

    I have wanted to submit something to APW for so long but felt my wedding planning was too WIC-ish. I am so relieved by your post, thank you thank you thank you.

  • Diane Day

    YES! I totally get where you’re coming from and remember having lots of similar feelings while wedding planning because I also wanted to be a chill non fussy bride.

    But then I freaked out over the cupcake tower my mom ordered because I let her pick it out and it just wasn’t what i had imagined at all and she didn’t show it to me until a month before the wedding… so yea freaks out happen and its best to just say what you want rather than worry about being a chill bride. BTW we did get another cupcake tower that I was very happy with :-)

  • rys

    I love the concept of “practicing honesty.” I’m feeling in need of that myself, albeit with some job decisions rather than weddings. I was talking to a friend yesterday who said, “are we talking about this [job a v. job b] because you’re unsure about what to do or because you know what you want but are afraid to admit it.” Bingo.

  • Sharon Gorbacz

    I am an avid gardener, and I ended up splurging more on floral centerpieces than I did for any other elements of the decor. 15 mercury glass vases just arrived early this week according to my florist. She’s ordering the flowers soon, as my wedding is in 15 days.
    I DIY’ed my favors and am going with the standard linens and candles offered by the venue at no additional cost. I am not paying extra for chair covers/sashes, personalized cake cutting knife & server, or toasting glasses.

  • Granola

    This seems like the wedding-flavored rebellion against being the “cool girl.” I feel you, keep it up.


  • Cam

    I like this piece overall, but I’m not sure how well the concrete examples fit with the takeaway message.
    You started off with a venue that is “sustainable” and “family owned” (and goats! but that is beside the point) so when you brought up locally grown flowers from an independently owned business my first thought was that it was probably a values based choice rather than a “fancy” one. Things like sustainable/green agriculture, low pesticide foods, and local business will often be more expensive than the alternatives, but I’m interested in why they seem fancy to you. (It’s worth a debate whether all of these practices are the right ones to
    support, and I’m not saying that you have to always support them to be a
    good person/ ethical consumer. No judgment from my corner!) Is it just feeling like you’ll be judged solely for choosing the more expensive option?

    • Libby

      I think it just ended up being a little more complex for me than simply a value based choice, hence the word “fancy” to indicate it was maybe a little unnecessary, but I did it anyway. I did intend throughout wedding planning to do my best to choose businesses that I wanted to support. But it was also a part of my truth that although it made me feel better that it would be locally sourced flowers, that was not the only reason I was choosing it. I also chose it because of *all the pretty things!* and *her flowers look like those beautiful ones I saw on the blog!* and reasons that didn’t feel “practical.” I could tell myself it was simply a value based choice, but that wouldn’t be the whole truth. So yes to the above, judgment about it being expensive because that immediately made me feel badly, as well as the complexity of it all. Hope that helps!

      • Courtney Kelsch

        I think this idea of a “value based choice” is really interesting. I get that here that phrase refers to values of organic, sustainable, green, etc. But, as a writer and an artist and a generally creative person, I value beauty (in all its forms). And I don’t think that’s the same thing as valuing “stuff,” which seems to be more what the aversion to pretty is all about right? Like, why am I spending all this money on this *stuff*? (Trust me, I’ve said that to myself a few times throughout wedding planning). But what I’ve eventually come to is that I don’t think there’s anything wrong with valuing beauty, and I don’t think it’s the same thing as valuing material things. So I guess what I’m saying is – I think choosing “*all the pretty things*” can totally be be a value based choice. And that’s not a value that necessarily makes a person shallow or irresponsible. So good for you for owning your love of those “fancy” flowers! I bet they’re going to be so gorgeous!

        • Meg Keene

          I think that’s part of the epic journey of the wedding planning process—learning to own our choices and values. Like, OF COURSE there is nothing wrong with valuing beautiful things. And that’s different from being guilt sold a bunch of things you don’t want so you present in a specific socially acceptable way. (Any judgement in that sentence is in the powers doing the guilt selling ;)

  • Allison

    Wow. This post hits me to the core.

    I also realize I feel the most pressure to compete against all.the.other.future.brides. To be more practical, less demanding, more easy going. Our friends have had a rash of weddings in the last two years and have spent that time complaining about how much we discuss them. So, I feel this insane pressure to not talk about it, not share any of the stress or joy in planning, and just be a “cool mom”.

    I am not an easy going person. All the details matter to me. Luckily I have a gem of a bridesmaid who is genuinely interested to hear all about my details and questions and DIY. And this is *exactly* why we have been friends for 20 years. I challenge myself to do the same for others getting married that I’m close to. To not hide the fact its a complicated time of emotions and self-realization. Its only a disservice to pretend its not.

  • MC

    My fiance and I (well, mostly my fiance, honestly) are struggling with this a lot since we started planning all the details. We agree that we want a wedding to feel like us and that we don’t want to spend too much money – two values that are not always compatible. Since I started out doing a lot of research I was more prepared for the discrepancy, but he has a really hard time coming to terms with the fact that if we want to have cute certerpieces and local, organic food and a karaoke DJ – it will all cost money.

  • Like

    Like. Like like like like like. I like this article.

  • c

    Let’s be honest, the latest wedding trend — getting married in a barn with hand-strung lights and DIY centerpieces while your guests sip a signature cocktail out of mason jars and your bridesmaids have mismatched yet perfectly coordinated dresses — is not this effortless, laid-back image that it’s meant to portray. It is *supposed* to look casual and uncaring and inexpensive, yet achieving that look requires a lot of attention, planning, and money.

    I think we’ve screwed up when we suggest that saying, “Fuck the WIC” means “I shouldn’t give a shit about what my wedding looks like.” The truth is that 99% of us DO care, we just want our weddings to be meaningful without totally consuming us; aka having “A Practical Wedding.”

    Don’t let the image of the cheap, trendy, laid-back wedding get you down. That is a mirage; it doesn’t exist. Plan a day that you feel comfortable planning and that you’ll be comfortable participating in. *That* to me is the ultimate definition of a practical wedding. And if that means splurging on flowers that will make you smile whenever you see them, go do it.

    • april

      Yes! First, let me be honest, I love the current rustic, handmade, DIY wedding asthetic. But it’s just that – an aesthetic. And having a “practical” and authentic wedding actually has very little to do with asthetics. It has to do with love and joy and celebrating meaningful relationships. And if it happens to also look effortlessly pretty – wonderful! But I think we talk ourselves into thinking that a wedding will only feel a certain way if it also looks a certain way, which is absolutely false.

      As a personal anecdote, m wedding was pretty traditional by a lot of standards. The ceremony was in a church, the reception was largely an indoor, sit-down affair. Decorations, aside from a lot of green hydrangea, were pretty minimal. People dressed up – ladies wore dresses, men wore coats and ties. At one point though, I was chatting with my photographer and she said that when her boyfriend (who had driven her from the ceremony to the reception) asked her whether the wedding was “fancy” she didn’t know what to say because “It sort of looks fancy, but everyone is just so laid back!” I didn’t have a particularly rustic or handmade *looking* wedding, but I think it still had a lot of the feelings we associate with that aesthetic. In other words, it felt casual and personal – and we and our guests will remember that feeling much more than what our flowers or our dessert table looked like.

      • Eh

        That sounds like our wedding (other than we didn’t get married in a church). My MIL had a hard time understanding our vision. Yes we were dressed up and yes our guests were to be dressed up but we don’t want it to feel stuffy, staged or impersonal – we wanted it to be authentic, meaningful, and family-focused. We have recieved many comments about how personal our wedding was and that’s what we wanted out guests to remember.

    • Meg Keene

      Agreed to all of this.

      ALSO. The rustic trend (which I’m shocked is still kicking, since it showed up in 2008) is DAAAMMMNNNN expensive. Unless you happen to actually have a family barn, which hilariously and of course, a few APW wedding grads had.

      • Class of 1980

        I sort of think the rustic trend happened naturally in places that are actually rustic. But then everyone who didn’t live in a rustic area fell in love with the look and wanted to copy it … and that’s expensive.

        Where I live in the mountains, the rustic look is natural and at home – it’s in the cabins and lodge-style houses, the resorts, and even the old barns that really are everywhere.

        • Kestrel

          Yes, yes, yes. There are so many places that really truly are ‘naturally rustic’ – and I freaking love those places! I currently live in one (UP of Michigan) where the rustic/weathered look isn’t at all simulated – it’s simply what it is. It’s not ‘rustic chic’ – it’s old, and weathered, and past its prime. It’s a bit sad, and depressing, but wonderfully steeped in history.

          Initially I wanted so badly to have that look, but realistically, it wasn’t going to happen in Midland, MI. That’s just not what Midland is. Midland is mostly a modern city. So my ‘vision’ had to change.

          • Class of 1980

            I mean … look at this place just the next county over from where I live. You don’t have to stress about the rustic look for an event there. It just IS rustic.


            I’ll be there this weekend for Sunday Brunch. Yum.

          • katiemckinnie

            That place is awesome! I grew up going to Lake Rabun as a kid.

    • JSwen

      Great points. I would add that just because you are keeping your budget low, doesn’t meant that you can’t be picky or care about the ascetic of your look or your reception look. Lots’a cash and Lots’a style don’t go hand in hand.

    • sarah l

      flowers were where i fell apart – they’re so expensive, they die, you need so many, i don’t understand what they do, i can’t imagine i will even notice them on the day of – they won’t affect how i feel about my wedding. they really freaked me out and i was initially kind of against them. they overwhelmed me so much that they were the point where i said fuck it and hired a wedding planner to handle it.

      on my wedding day, the first thing that made me cry (followed later by some other, non aesthetic stuff) was when my flowers came into the room. I couldn’t imagine giving a shit, and then they showed up and it was suddenly all real and beautiful, so… you might end up being really happy about the flowers in ways you never dreamed

      • Sarah

        my flowers were one of my favorite parts of the wedding. I still cry about those effing things. They’re just so beautiful.

    • Rebekah

      Eh, I guess to me “Fuck the WIC” means a combination of “You can’t tell me what I *have* to have” and “Question your decisions to find what’s meaningful to you.”
      I definitely admit to feeling the pressure to have an “effortless” wedding – to be low-key and easygoing while simultaneously pulling off a beautiful (but thrifty and unique!) wedding that represents us.
      You know what? Some of the stuff is just stuff, and it’s easier to just do what most people before us have done. Point being: I’ll marry my beloved and people will celebrate that fact with us.

  • I’ll take “my exact feelings about my wedding” for a $1000 Alex. Couple this with surprisingly strong feelings about random things, and I’m very conflicted about this wedding. I’ve tried to care about my dress and photography because both the WIC and the indie blogs say those are THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS. Except, I don’t. My dress is a dress. I look good and bride-like(ish). I cannot justify spending 1/3 of my budget on photos, no matter how beautiful. We Instagram like a boss, but don’t really like looking at pictures that much.


    I discovered that I love (and I mean LOVE) wedding videos. I’m obsessed with wedding shows, not because of all the WIC/Pinterest trimmings, but because I like the moving parts of a wedding. The slow realization of the partner waiting at the end of the aisle that the partner coming towards them is about to marry them (it’s equal parts Christmas morning and best surprise party ever). I love watching that moment. So we are spending a huge portion of our budget on this thing I had no idea I wanted. And that’s okay. Right? Right.

  • K.

    I recently (somewhat tipsily) complained about getting a $600 bouquet quote back from a florist. And while I still maintain that is a ridiculous amount of money for a single item, the hidden implication there is that I’m going to florists who would think that a $600 bouquet is in the realm of reasonable. And you know what? I am. I’m having a big budget wedding. It’s mostly coming from my incredibly generous parents, but my fiance and I are also saving up to subsidize quite a bit more (more than many people’s entire wedding budget). The main reasons we’re saving are “acceptable” in the eyes of a lot of practical people – rings, hotel suite, honeymoon, helping wedding party with travel, etc.

    But a big part of what we’re saving? Totally going to our insane floral vision (fiance is actually the big flower lover in our relationship – he’s a budding gardener), unnecessary wine upgrades, and a wedding planner who will make sure we don’t have to lift a finger in the six months before our wedding which is also when my fiance is graduating from graduate school and we’re moving across the country…from both our current home and even further from our wedding location. Right now, I’m definitely not coming across like a low-key bride because we’re actively planning a wedding that’s still over a year away like it’s 6 months away. But there’s a reason for it (moves, graduation, mitigating stress) and it’s how “practical” works for us, especially since we’re the opposite (seriously, the OPPOSITE) of a crafty-DIYers, minus any writing or web components.

    And the flowers? That’s just our aesthetic taste that we’re lucky and privileged enough to enjoy. So we figure, fuck it. Let’s get the giant moss garland and the big ass white roses.

    • Meg Keene

      Are wine upgrades ever unnecessary? I mean, I think I’m confused by the question.

      • jashshea

        Couldn’t agree more: Our alcohol budget was more than my entire bridal outfit (dress, shoes, fauxfur), shoes, hair/makeup, flowers, groom’s suit…and probably a few other things.

    • Lindsay Rae

      Thank you! I’m having a big-budget wedding as well and sometimes I feel guilty about what we’re spending. My bridesmaid (and recent bride) almost hit the floor when she heard of our florist quote. (Side note, my wedding has twice as many guests and therefore centerpieces as hers…so it makes a little sense) But “we’re lucky and privileged enough to enjoy” too. Thanks for putting it that way!

  • BD

    This sounds a lot like my own wedding planning experience! I was mostly the “laid back” bride, but there were some things that I really really cared about and really really wanted, and I felt silly for caring about them and wasteful for wanting to spend the money on them. It took my fiance shaking me a little and saying “hey, just do what you want,” that finally got me to chill out about it and just enjoy the ride. So our wedding was a little disjunctive (fancy string quartet at the ceremony, beer keg at the reception), but it suited my husband and I to a T.

    • Eh

      I think that those juxtapositions are what make weddings personal. My husband loves lego and loves board games so our centrepeices were board games and our table numbers were made of lego.

    • Lisa

      I think that was the most important thing about getting married for the second time. I knew what I cared about, and why, and I knew my near and dear supported me in my priorities and I SO didn’t care about anyone else.

      By the way, some of what I cared about was other people and their feelings.

      • Meg Keene

        For the record, I feel like I should say that I was one of the people who told Lisa, “Don’t be crazy! You have the money/ you really care/ SPEND ALL THE MONEY ON ALL THE FLOWERS.” Possibly the best advice I’ve ever passed out, so you know, take it for free ;)

      • Kat91314

        My 1st wedding definitely is giving me perspective on the 2nd time around. Like you said, Lisa, I know what I care about, and what I can live without, and I’m making choices accordingly. It makes things so less complicated, knowing I don’t have to worry about things I don’t really care about in the long run. I just get to focus on celebrating our love with our family and friends :-)

  • Daniella

    you get me! Hahah thanks for sharing, if for no other reason than just to make the rest of us not feel like we are alone is this internal struggle. I would LOVE to see a “this is how we did it” post about your wedding!

  • Alyssa M

    Man I identify with this so much. I have put a lot of emotional effort into being laid back and choosing the easy/cheap options… It’s still turning out in a way I think I’ll love… but after trying so hard not to be THAT bride I intercepted a text from my father to my mother while we were dress shopping that said “Is bridezilla driving you crazy yet?” He says he was joking… but man… that made me want to burst into tears…

  • LCC

    I love love love this essay. It describes my experience with wedding planning completely. We’re not a DIY couple, we don’t have a DIY family, but we’re not fancy and we’re not barn/mason jar rustic aesthetic people. There aren’t only two choices in wedding planning, there are many ways of doing it right. And as long as the day is filled with love that’s what matters. Thank you for writing this, it just makes so much sense to me.

    • Kat91314

      “There aren’t only two choices in wedding planning, there are many ways
      of doing it right. And as long as the day is filled with love that’s
      what matters.” THIS. Thank you for putting into words exactly what I’ve been feeling :-)

  • Kirstin

    Yes. This times 1000. And then some more.

    I keep hearing myself say to others, “It’s just a day” and “we’re just not that into this.” Secretly, I am into some of it. I want it to look like I didn’t care that much, while still being “just right” and “very us.” Where did this person come from? It’s making me question what I know about myself.

    We are getting the Whole Foods cake because we don’t need the big fancy cake. But am I making sure there is an adorable topper on it, of course.

    I bought my wedding dress online and it was the first I tried on and it was super affordable. I also bought $200 Kate Spade shoes. Because they were glittery and adorable.

    I want low cost, “don’t care” flowers. But they certainly can’t be ugly. And I still have somewhat of a vision for what I want and don’t want.

    These constant juxtapositions are making me feel a bit crazy. And I’m glad to know I’m not the only one struggling with this.

    • Megan

      Holy crap, you are living my struggle – right down to the Whole Foods cake and adorable topper (custom through Etsy because this is what I have become).

      Thank you for articulating the feelings that trigger my secret Pinterest-inspired panic attacks.

      Good luck!

  • Lisa

    Spending some money and caring about aesthetics isn’t always a marker of High Maintenance Shreekers And Yellers.

    • Meg Keene

      Favorite comment of the week? Maybe.

    • Meg Keene

      Actually, my (dear) friends who were High Maintenance Shreekers And Yellers (bless them) didn’t spend a lot of money or care about aesthetics very much, so there you are. They were just kind of intense.

  • I’m in a similar boat! In my fantasy head, we would have a totally DIY rustic wedding that was sooo us and alternative yadda yadda and it turns out that that’s just not us – we don’t have time for many crafts. we’re planning from another state. our families are pretty much paying for it. the wedding will be very us, but “us” means not being that crafty and being busy and …. i did pick one or two “crafts” that I can do myself to feel good. other than that, this easy breeze-y bride remains easy and breeze-y *because* we don’t have to DIY.

  • Anya

    YES! oh god yes. even now, I look back at the wedding and cringe at some things. I wanted to buy a dress online or on craigslist, but to my mom that was unacceptable. And when she bought me the dress and I love it, but a part of me feels so guilty that I spent the money.

    In the end, figure out what’s important to you (to me, it was: dress, ceremony, homemade favors), and then make it your own and move past the guilt. You are still practical, you are still you.

    And while our wedding had many WIC things in it: favors, centerpieces (lanterns), DJ, ridiculously expensive dress, everyone there could still see us shine through it.

    • Eh

      THIS ->>> “while our wedding had many WIC things in it… everyone there could still see us shine through it”

      Because our wedding was a year after another family member’s wedding our wedding is frequently compared to their wedding. The other wedding was fairy tale princess themed, and the guests didn’t find it to be very personal or authentic to the couple (especially the groom). Our wedding didn’t have a theme (I don’t like theme parties) so we didn’t have to worry about making things fit the theme, instead we made decisions based on what was important to us and how we were going to be expressed through that aspect of our wedding. Between that and not going crazy/stressed over our wedding (which for the most part I managed to do) was how we defined “practical”.

      • Anya

        We also had a wedding the year before (my brother-in-law’s), and it was very “standard”: traditional ceremony, traditional meal, etc. So I hear you. And my MIL spent a lot of time going “But my other daughter-in-law wanted this! And you need THIS!”

        So I agree with you a hundred percent. Themes don’t really work, at least for us. Unless it was “star wars/lego/harry potter/hunger games/LOTR” fused into one. Or something. We also wrote our own ceremony (thank you APW) so it was definitely us from start to finish.

        • Eh

          I’m glad that my MIL wasn’t like that. She was cut out of planning her other son’s wedding (the year before ours) so she was usually just happy to be involved in ours. Her comments were more about what she expected a wedding to be like. She had never been to a secular ceremony before so she was concerned about that (we also wrote our own ceremony). And she was concerned about having an open bar since that’s not the norm where they live. Because she had never been to anything other then what she considered traditional weddings, she had a hard time seeing our vision. From the outside I don’t think that people really noticed much of a difference between our wedding and traditional weddings – what they did notice was the personal/authentic aspect. I think that you can have a personal/authentic wedding and have a theme (BTW the theme you mentioned would have been EPIC) but you may need to make choices between being true to yourselves or being true to the theme.

  • ThisWillBeDeletedin321

    Has APW always had this obnoxious combative tone or am I just starting to notice it more? Choose fancy flowers or don’t, but don’t act like you’re sticking it to anyone. Lately I feel like everything on this site is “I had this really ‘brave’ realization about something completely inconsequential and I’m really foul-mouthed about it, because otherwise how would you know I’m a modern woman?”

    • Meg Keene

      To be fair, she actually used the radio edit of the song, and we edited it because the other way was catchy.

      When I was writing about planning my wedding, the site was about 500% more combative. Some times I enjoy getting to bring back the huge amount of anger I felt. So yeah, it’s always been at least this combative. You’re good, the rest of the wedding world is super not combative and doesn’t curse, so you’ll find plenty of places you fit in better.

    • Lauren from NH

      I didn’t find much combative about this particular post. I also initially did not connect with it much, because hey! I am not planning a wedding so surprise surprise I am not super clued into the pressures that are happening. So I sat back and watched the comments pour in, to hear from the ladies that did connect with this piece (there are rather a lot of them) and I found their interpretations spoke loudly to me. I think APW provides a safe place and community for a lot of women transitioning from girlfriend to fiancé to bride to wife. All of these identities are complex and carry a great deal of traditional expectations, many of which don’t work for APW ladies. Anger is, I think, one of many valid responses. And as I saw today, the silly flower were a jumping off point to talk about bigger issues with the requirement that women/brides be effortlessly perfect.

    • JSwen

      I’m pretty new to the site but I think that the emotional aspect of throwing a party for your circle of family and friends can, at times, result in internal conflict. As can the entire experience of preparing to wed your significant other. This inner conflict is one of the reasons people reach out to resources like APW to see examples of what others have done and maybe find a sufficient internal compromise.

  • Heather

    “I realized this is an internal fight I’ve been having my whole life. I feel an expectation to be flawless and beautiful, while simultaneously easy going and low maintenance.”

    TRUTH. Wow. So true.

  • kate

    Love this, thanks for sharing. I had a similar internal battle that manifested itself as tears in the dressing room when trying on dresses. The dress that I really liked, my family loved, and I looked awesome in is…a full skirted ball gown. Whattttt?? I’ve spent a lot of time cultivating myself as a person who does not need another person to open their car door or carry their luggage for them and this dress did not fit with the image I have of myself. Turns out that when I bashfully describe it as “kind of princessy” people seem a little surprised, but when I show them a picture they gush appropriately. My personal lesson learned is to stop apologizing for my dress and just rock it, because this is just one day that doesn’t necessarily have to represent my entire life philosophy.

    • Hannah B

      :-) I work in a bridal salon and I promise you that your experience happens to a lot of people…they describe the opposite thing of what they end up buying because expectations and reality often don’t meet. Sometimes you just look and feel the best in a wedding dress you’d never have imagined you’d pick. And you know what? That’s ok! If you like your dress and you like how it makes you feel, then great! I’m sure you’ll rock it on your wedding day, because you’re an awesome person who will be happy they just got married. You’ll just be an awesome person who happens to be wearing a ball gown. For what it’s worth, people are empowered in the same way but opposite direction, too: they come in thinking a ball gown is the only dress for them, but end up going with a mermaid dress because it makes them feel a certain way. You are not alone.

    • CallistaS

      I bought the very dress I emphatically described to my MOH as not wanting. But you know what? I tried it on and LOVED it. I tried on what I thought I would love and it looked awful and felt like I was wearing curtains.

      Life is funny that way. If you love it, that’s all that matters! People are multifaceted, even though we like to stick ourselves into boxes, sometimes the boxes are not really who we are all the time.

  • I admit, the headline drew me in. It’s a constant struggle. Just hold on and know, like you said, your wedding will be full of love no matter what the WIC has to do with it. <3

  • kcaudad

    not sure if someone already posted this, but this quote from the article, “I feel an expectation to be flawless and beautiful, while simultaneously easy going and low maintenance.” reminded me of an article from last week’s APW Friday Happy Hour: “Jennifer Lawrence and the history of the “cool girl.” http://www.buzzfeed.com/annehelenpetersen/jennifer-lawrence-and-the-history-of-cool-girls

    • Maddie Eisenhart

      YES. Not sure how I didn’t make the connection before that the cool girl trap in real life is the same as the cool girl trap in wedding planning. They are the same! ::Mind explodes::

  • Erin E

    That line – the one we’ve all been quoting: “I realized this is an internal fight I’ve been having my whole life. I
    feel an expectation to be flawless and beautiful, while simultaneously
    easy going and low maintenance.” – that kind of slapped me in the face today. How awful that so many of us identify with it because what it’s really pointing out is the fact that society wants women to be silent. They want a specific type of perfection, but they do not want to hear our voices about how hard that perfection is to attain (or how we may disagree with what perfection should be). We must do all the things that make us a good woman without raising any kind of fuss whatsoever. F-that!!

  • Sarah E

    Yes, absolutely. I wish to spend roughly zero dollars on any kind of decoration for my wedding, with the exception of candles. I want candles all over the place. Except, now we’ve kind of swung around towards a venue choice that doesn’t allow open flame. And it makes sense for every other reason, so if we don’t find anything better within our budget, I’ll have to mourn the loss of the candles. SIGH.

  • Sarah

    We envisioned having the kind of wedding that would be featured on “offbeat bride” and we certainly thought we would be the poster couple for APW. What we ended up with was an expensive as hell wedding that was at least 85% traditional. But every single decision we made was the right one for us. We loved every second, every detail, every memory, every everything of our wedding, even throughout the planning process. It was very us, it was beautiful, and it was a blast. We got caught up in the WIC as long as it was fun. Then we did something funky/cheap/different when that made more sense. Some things turned out exactly as we’d envisioned and some looked so different than the original plan. Some things were bohemian and modern (like my awesome flower crown that I still cry about because I love it so much) and some things were traditional and regal (like our very fancy, very formal Catholic church that I still cry about because I love it so much).The thing that kept our wedding “practical” is that we never felt pressured to make it anything but a day that reflected our love and commitment to each other and our guests. We loved the shit out of our wedding, from our fancy flowers to our DIY place-cards with typos. So girl, you go get your fancy flowers and love the shit out of them!

    • rel_redhead

      I’m with you. Just because a particular things is associated with big, fancy, WIC weddings doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do that thing if you like it. We are having a buffet-style sit-down dinner because…well, we love food and wanted to serve a full meal and our caterer’s food is delicious. We are having a rehearsal dinner because it is important to my fiancé’s parents to have one, and a receiving line because it’s important to my mom. But we are also skipping the big wedding party (just a matron of honor and a best man). My fiancé’s sister is going to officiate. We don’t have colors, and I don’t even know what a unity candle is. But doing at least some traditional or WIC things doesn’t mean you’re some kind of pod person–some traditional things are fun, and sometimes they are important to your important people, and worth doing for them even if they weren’t high on your personal list of priorities

  • Kelsey

    This. Except applied to home decorating. I somehow manage to be guilty for both wanting to spend money to paint my walls, and for my walls being white. My apartment must be comfy, or I’m failing as an adult, and I must not spend a dime on it or else I’m being irresponsible and impractical. Which, obviously, can’t work both ways.

    • Hannah B

      I also feel this way. I have a Pinterest board devoted to hopes and dreams of a gorgeous soft comfy apartment, which I’d probably never leave. Weirdly, there’s never any laundry on the floor in my dream apartment. Do you wander around Target for hours, too (which of course is the hotbed of “cheap” decor temptation)? And why are area rugs so expensive? (Also, to make my white walls less white, I printed off some free monograms from weddingchicks and then scotch taped them to colorful paper and taped them on my wall. Not fancy, but it takes up space above my bed, and I like it.)

      • Kelsey

        Replace area rugs with slip covers–I have have a hand me down living room set that my parent’s had since long before I was born, and the couch is both floral and paisley at once… But the part about Target is spot on.

  • Mary

    thank you, thank you, thank you! I don’t comment much on APW, but I did comment back on the budget conversation post. I honestly shared my budget of around $25,000 and how my fiancé and I were still planning to make very conscious decisions about where to cut back and where to spend. then watched as other commenters criticized that number because “spending anything above $10,000 just couldn’t be practical”. that’s when my internal battle started – does spending money make me impractical?

    but I think being a “practical bride” is so much more than just being budget conscientious. it’s about building a wedding that celebrates love and family and coming together to create something new. I love beautiful flowers. and creative invitations. and really really great food. and yes, all of those things are going to put me at the very top (if not slightly over) my budget. you go girl – have your expensive flowers and enjoy them. because other decisions you make will still keep you the level-headed, practical bride that I think all of us reading this blog strive to be.

  • Caitlin_DD

    To go totally off topic… can I ask what kind of flowers those are in the middle of the photo? Gorgeous!

    • KH_Tas

      Are they Anemones?

      • Caitlin_DD

        Mayhaps they are! Thank you.

  • rel_redhead

    I’ll also go on record as saying this post really resonated with me. As much as I love the idea of DIY-ing in theory, it just doesn’t make sense for us–we are planning a wedding in my home state, which is a 5-hour flight from where we currently live, and probably won’t be able to take more than a couple days off our crazy jobs in the week before the wedding. So DIYing centerpieces, flowers, etc. just isn’t realistic for us. One of my coworkers is generously making us beautiful handmade invitations, but that will be about the extent of the handmade at our wedding, and I’ve made peace with that. A whole bunch of DIY just doesn’t jibe with the decision we made about where to have the wedding, and since that’s a decision we’re otherwise really happy with, that’s just the way it’s going go be.

    We’ve been lucky that aspects of our wedding planning have gotten to be low-key through chance: I tried on exactly two dresses before finding one I love that was within budget, and decided to just get it and stop looking. The first photographer, caterer, baker, DJ and florist we met with were all great, so we were spared having to meet with 4 or 5 florists or trying cakes as 3 bakeries (though I suppose some of that was also about letting go of the idea that there is always a better or better-value service out there and just going with your gut). Our venue was built in the 1920s and looks it, which has helped us have a little bit of a defined aesthetic without having to do any decorating or theme-ing. But luck and circumstances play a huge role in how your particular wedding process goes, and I don’t think anyone should feel guilty because they had a professional do the flowers, decided to have chiavari chairs (hell, I am), or had to go to 4 caterers to find food they were happy with.

  • Katy

    “I feel an expectation to be flawless and beautiful, while simultaneously easy going and low maintenance.” — Oh my. This. So much this. I so feel you on this. I’m not even engaged and I already feel this way about every single thought that I have about weddings.

  • Stella

    THIS! all of this!

  • katiemckinnie

    How do you know my life?!? I have been feeling this SO MUCH throughout the wedding planning process. Because, let’s face it, I AM a girly girl, and I think flowers and cute outfits are the easiest way to make a bad day better. So of course I care about the flowers. And the dress. And hosting a party for 200 of your closest friends and family, with a full bar because your parents insist, isn’t cheap. But there’s so much judgement from both sides of the spectrum. (Not on or from APW, but from society at large.) Either you’ve wasted thousands of dollars, and your wedding won’t last because expensive isn’t meaningful, or you didn’t spend ENOUGH and it looked tacky/cheap/etc. You literally can’t win.

    • CallistaS

      Honestly, your wedding sounds awesome. I would rather people spend the energy on hosting people correctly, than not. It’s never a “waste” of thousands of dollars if you are putting on a kickass party for your loved ones, and ultimately, that’s what the reception is!

  • Julia

    “I feel an expectation to be flawless and beautiful, while simultaneously easy going and low maintenance.”

    This. SO TRUE. Not only for wedding planning, but true in general for so many aspects of life!

  • Jen Schuster

    I really enjoyed this article. I am in home stretch of planning and find that my type A personality really wants certain things. I do want full length bridesmaids gowns and a gorgeous, fancy venue but that doesn’t mean I want a million flowers. I have been plagued with people telling me what is expected and what I am supposed to have or not to have. I am at the point where I want to scream that this is MY DAY, not yours and I will drink beer out of a bottle if I want to.

  • CallistaS

    This is how it was for me too. I never thought I “cared” about flowers, or the cake, or a pretty fancy dress, or any of it. But as we got into planning, I realized that I did want those things. Would the world end if I had to do Costco flowers? No, it would not. But to be frank, crafting things is stressful. It’s also expensive, and you end up spending a substancial amount of of time and energy putting that stuff together. To me, it was just too stressful to comprehend trying to DIY everything. I laugh at the things we originally thought like that we would be okay not having lighting (It’s outside, and will be dark….so our guests would have been standing in the dark, literally.), or that we could just buy flowers at costco (Here’s a clue, I suck at flower arrangements..and don’t want to have to transport them). Caring about fancy things, and hiring vendors to do stuff for you does not make you a sucker, a failure, or a bridezilla. Some people are not good at creating that stuff, or just flat out don’t want to do it. There’s nothing wrong with admitting that.

  • dc_kat

    I think I started planning my wedding and perhaps am still grasping to the idea that I too am, “You’re still laid back, you don’t care! You only care about the important things.” but failing miserably. I got the big stuff: venue, food, etc mostly arranged early on thinking that the last few months I would have time to enjoy figuring out the details of making things pretty and nice and personalized. But now I am one month away and mostly just feel really lonely and want the whole thing to be over with already. I can’t find the joy that is supposed to be embedded in this time. The parents on both sides have plenty of ideas, often differing, and plenty of people that they want and continue to invite, and while they are paying for portions of the wedding which has now turned into 4 days of events that they want, yet they aren’t willing to pitch in on actual tasks like following up with their own friends who have not yet rsvp’d or arranging the decorations for the rehearsal dinner that they want and feel is important. I feel like I am the only one trying to keep things on track and within the budget. My parents snub my few requests for help while at the same time tell me I “just need to relax” “everything will come together” “you just need to delegate”. My friends have started criticizing choices that I make implying I am not giving enough consideration to “how important” things are for the actual day and that I will regret not spending more money (that I don’t have.) And while my fiance is wonderful, loving and supportive his work situation has taken an uptick to the point where he is operating on an average of four hours of sleep a night to get things taken care of so he can be gone for the time we have booked for our wedding and honeymoon. I am just wondering if anyone else reached a point of loneliness that feels so opposite of the inclusive celebration we set out to have, that made them just want to walk away from the whole thing? How do you find the boundaries of what is important to you versus other people?