Letter From The Editor: Beginnings (and a New APW Book!)

Yes, obviously that was a teaser

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Hi APW,

While every January we reapproach the idea of beginnings (beginning the New Year, beginning wedding planning), Januaries aren’t really about true, from scratch beginnings. What I find inspiring about New Year’s (my most favorite of holidays) is that it’s all about starting again, right where you are. It’s about allowing yourself a clearing, a pause, a sense of space, so you can evaluate where you’ve been and think about where you’re going. It’s about starting fresh, right in the middle of the mess of our lives. It’s about saying, this too can be new (again).

Starting Wedding Planning (Again)

Each year, many of you descend on APW in the New Year to start wedding planning. But those visits are the January kind of beginnings. Maybe you just got engaged over the holidays (but have been scrabbling around in your mind, thinking about weddings as a pre-engaged person for months). Maybe you’ve been engaged for months (or years), but have suddenly realized that your wedding is, indeed, happening in 2015, and you’d better figure out how to actually… do this thing. And for the few of you genuinely starting from scratch, well, I’m glad you’re able to do that here. We aim to make APW the kind of community where nobody will judge you for having a potluck wedding, or an I-need-all-the-help-I-can-get DIY wedding, or hell, an $80,000 wedding. We aim to be a place where you can talk and think about marriage (which in theory is the point of the whole damn thing). And we also hope to gently debate each other when we disagree, but do so kindly (sometimes with just a simple agreement to disagree forever).

More then anything, over the past six and a half years, we’ve aimed to be a place that will help you actually plan your wedding. Because aside from the wedding industry having a dubious set of guiding principals (buy more things?), for an industry with so much money and clout behind it, it’s awfully bad at helping you figure out how to actually throw a damn wedding. For those of us who can’t pay for the best of everything (or just hire the best wedding planners to buy the best of everything on our credit cards), the wedding industry doesn’t seem to offer much. We’re tossed scraps of inspiration pictures. (“Okay! It says they did this on a budget in Brooklyn. So maybe if I stare at the pictures long enough, I can figure out what the budget was, and how they did it.”) And we’re also given dribs of almost condescendingly bad information. (“This book says if I use flowers that are less expensive, my florist bill will be lower???”) So we’ve been hard at work over the last few years creating real, helpful logistical information for planning the whole shebang. In the next few days, we’ll be publishing our top 50 guide to the best resources on APW for getting started wedding planning, but in the interim, may I gently nudge you to our How To and Logistics sections? Along with our How We Did It wedding posts that talk numbers and, well, how people did it.

Beginning… A new Wedding Planning Book!

This year, I’m in the middle of my own re-beginning. Four years ago I started writing a wedding planning book, outlining a more sane wedding philosophy than any of the (frankly bat-shit crazy) thoughts the mainstream wedding industry was floating around as “how things were done.” Three years ago, that book was published, and Amtrak took me all around the country on a month-long book tour, where I got to meet tons of you, and talk weddings, marriage, feminism, and more. And in the years since, that book has gone on to sell more copies than I ever, ever, ever expected. (Because on some level, I assumed it was just me that needed more help and sanity in wedding planning.)

But in the past year or two, as we’ve worked hard to publish more and more logistical planning information on the site, it’s felt like something was missing. My book is a sassy, emotional little guide to rethinking what weddings can be, and I’m super proud of it. But it still doesn’t provide all the information that I so desperately needed while planning our wedding. (What would it logistically mean to do a wedding at my parents’ house?) Nor does it answer the questions that my newly engaged friends pepper me with. (What do I need to know about rentals? How do you get married on a public beach?) And just like last time, some part of me started to realize that publishing this information willy nilly online wasn’t… enough. That wedding planning deserved organized chapters, and margins you could write in, and space where you could take notes. Just like the emotions and philosophy of wedding planning needed a book you could pass to your partner, and mom, and best friend, the logistics of wedding planning needed the very same thing.

All of which is to say, I’m writing a book, again. I came up with the idea last spring, and was in the midst of selling it when my publisher almost merged with Hachette as part of the Amazon / Hachette war, with authors in the cross fire. After months of delay, the whole Hachette deal fell through, and just like that, contracts were signed and I was writing a book. I struggled through writing all fall, not wanting to tell much of anyone till the book was closer to publication… and I had proved to myself that I could write this sort of book. Because unlike the last go-round, where I more or less sat down and downloaded my thoughts onto paper, this time I needed to hire a research assistant, and we needed to conduct a ton of interviews, and I needed to boil that information (along with the best information lurking in the corners of APW) down into something really helpful. And I wanted a few months to prove to myself that it could be done (by, um, me). In the last few months I’ve proved that to myself. I now just need to keep on proving it every day for a few more months.

Not One of Those Awful Blank Three Ring Binder Things

I’m happy to announce that A Practical Wedding’s Guidebook for Creating the Wedding You Want (with the Budget You’ve Got) (Or something. My editor and I have no honest-to-God idea exactly what we’re calling the book yet. But she’s awesome, and my publishing team has already proven they are awesome once before, so it’ll be something nice.) will be out this December 2015, for stuffing Christmas stockings and putting under Hanukkah menorahs. Unlike the last book, it’s going to be a little bigger (though still softcover and affordable), with more space to scribble on it, and tons of information-dense pages. Bullet pointed lists are my new best friends.

So, in that spirit, here is another bullet pointed list to add to my ever-growing collection on my hard drive.

What can you expect in this book?

  • “So I’m having a taco truck wedding. I just need to hire a taco truck and have them show up and that’s it right? Wait, that’s NOT it? Well shit.” (And how about a list of all the other stuff you need to think about?)
  • “How on earth do I navigate the wedding dress process without losing my mind goddamn mind? Also, is all of this a scam?” (Interestingly, no. It’s just very poorly explained, often by very condescending salespeople.)
  • “The Internet seems to think that my venue is a perfectly curated hipster design space. But it’s not. In fact, it’s more like a big ugly space. How can I make it cute without breaking the bank?” (How about I interview some awesome designers and round up the best tips for you?)
  • “I think I’m going to have to rent tables… and… other things? I don’t have someone else doing it for me! What do I need to know?” (You do need to know things, but it’s not rocket science so I’m just going to collect it all in once place for you, mmmkay?)
  • And more!
  • Way more!

When I was at the end of writing the last book, I dashed this off in a post (which has since become my favorite line on all of my creative projects ever):

After I finished the first half, people would ask what I thought about the book, and I’d look into the middle distance and wave my arm around and say, “It’s not shitty.” And then I’d pause and say, “I really don’t have any perspective.”

I’m about halfway through with my draft pages on this book, and I can offer about the same review this time. Hopefully later I’ll get to this point:

Because what I really wanted to do was write a damn helpful book. A helpful, empowering book, that doesn’t make you crazy. And I’m pretty sure I did that. Plus, there are red shoes on the cover, so it’s kind of a win either way.

But for now, I wish you all in your (re-)beginnings, what I wish on my own. I wish that they are not shitty. And maybe later, that you get red shoes.

Till then, here is to wading through it together.

xoxo

Meg

Coming up in the next few weeks and months on APW: Bunches of tips to get you started (or re-started) wedding planning. Some of the most smoking hot, outside the box weddings we’ve ever even seen, plus information on how they were pulled off. A near endless line up of DIY tutorials on crafts and flowers by all of our favorite designers. Tons of logistical help, some of which is sourced from my outtakes from the book. (I can’t fit in thousands of words of research about vintage wedding dresses, but I’m pretty sure you want to know about it.) Essays on life and marriage from some of our new regular contributors, our killer new team of writing interns… and you. Plus tips on simplifying cooking, insurance, fitness (to keep you alive), and all of those tiny steps we’re all taking toward full adulthood. Hell yes, 2015. Let’s do this.

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