Love & Choice & Power by Meg Keene Long time reader Erica sent me an email with these words: A Practical Wedding has helped me to keep my sister sane as she is planning her wedding. I feel like every wedding conversation I have with her starts with her seriously stressing over something silly like whether it’s okay for her fiance to have a different number of groomsmen than she has bridesmaids, and ends with me telling her that there are no rules she needs to follow in planning her wedding. She can do whatever she wants. This past weekend, my boyfriend and I got engaged. Then the barrage of questions started and the input on how we should do things began. Instead of stressing me out, they just rolled right off of my back. I know the questions and demands will only get worse, and not everyone will be happy with the non-traditional choices we make for our wedding, but now that I know there is a whole army of people out there who agree with me, and support our right to do things our way, it’s not so hard to take other people’s unhappiness with our decisions. Which brings motivated me to get down on paper something I’ve been wanting to say about wedding planning for a long time. First of all, lets not kid ourselves, for most of us wedding planning can be tough. There are days when nothing seems right, when everyone has an opinion, when life events make this party you are planning seem so small, when you can’t figure out how to afford things, when vendors are flat out horrible to you. There will be those days. And those days are normal. But for me, in the end, wedding planning has turned out to be all about making choices. It’s about claiming the life that you want in the middle of a world that is telling you about the life that you should have. Let me say this loud and clear: No one can tell you how to live, and you pick the life you want. A marriage is, in many ways, the one of the few times in our lives when we make a big conscious decision about who we are, and what we want, and who we love. And, as much as people view love as magic, love and choice all mixed up together are a powerful powerful brew, and people are scared by it. So they’ll tell you that you need to wear a big poufy dress, or have a steak dinner, or throw a garter, and and and and and. But you don’t. And you shouldn’t trust people who say you need X to have a wedding, just like you shouldn’t trust people who say you can’t have X to have a wedding. You shouldn’t trust people who tell you how much or how little you need to spend, or what you need to wear, or the vows you need to make. If I’ve learned one thing planning this wedding, its this: The times that you say ‘NO, that is not who we are, that is not what we want’ will be vastly overpowered by the times you say ‘YES YES YES, this is who we are, this is what we want, this is how we live’. Be true to yourself, fearlessly claim the life you want. That’s it. That’s all. That’s the solution to this puzzle. Meg Keene Founder & Editor-In-Chief Meg is the Founder and EIC of APW. She has written two best selling wedding books: A Practical Wedding and A Practical Wedding Planner. Meg has her BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She lives in Oakland, CA with her husband and two children. For more than you ever wanted to know about Meg, you can visit MegKeene.com.