Kelly & Ian

*Kelly Benvenuto, Administrative Coordinator and Wedding Photographer & Ian Campbell, Graduate Student*

Saratoga Outdoor Wedding with Lawn Games

I’m excited about Kelly’s Wedding Graduate post today because it takes me straight back to my planning. It takes me back to the stress, the second guessing, the trying to get it right, and the every-stupid-choice seeming important. It takes me back to why I wrote the APW book in the first damn place. For those of you planning, this post is chock full of the best kind of advice, plus some hand holding of I’ve-been-there. So read, take notes, and really let yourself absorb it…

Saratoga Outdoor Wedding with Lawn Games

How I learned to stop worrying and love my wedding ten months later

Ten months after our wedding, I found myself crying in my husband’s arms. “But you did like our wedding, right?” I asked. OMG and WTF. How did I get to that point?

Saratoga Outdoor Wedding with Lawn Games

Let’s back up. I love love stories. I will admit that when I was little, I loved the Disney princesses. I loved reading Little Women and still love all things Jane Austen. So it feels natural that I’ve always loved weddings, or at least what I knew of weddings. A huge celebration of not only finding love, but committing to live a lifetime of love with another person—all while in fancy clothes and surrounded by pretty details (and I do like pretty). What could be better?

Saratoga Outdoor Wedding with Lawn Games

Turns out, I hated planning our wedding.

Saratoga Outdoor Wedding with Lawn Games

When Ian and I first got engaged, I wanted to take some time to enjoy it. If I knew what wedding planning was actually like, I would have taken longer than three weeks (do you hear that, those of you just engaged?). But, one sunny Sunday afternoon, Ian was off to work, and I decided I would just try to find a timeline or something to get me started. I was almost instantaneously sucked in to the WIC, scrolling through endless inspiration slideshows. I went to bed with all sorts of prettiness in my head and woke up at  5 a.m., a solid two hours before my alarm, feeling sick to my stomach and thinking about Martha Stewart’s suggestion of giving “a pair of pears” as a favor. WTF? Seriously? It was a bad omen of the times to come.

Saratoga Outdoor Wedding with Lawn Games

So much about the modern wedding seems to be about selling you something. I’m the kind of shopper that wants to look at everything before making a decision. That way I can weigh all my options and choose what is best. The WIC wants to sell you everything you might possibly need and even more that you don’t. And there are lots of people to sell it to you. And they present all these different visions of happiness that you can buy into: A hotel wedding! A beach wedding! A farm wedding! A backyard wedding! It was like a personality quiz and my choice would somehow define me. It was so completely overwhelming. While I can make a decision in a crisis, a wedding planned over a year let me look around, not make a decision, then make a decision and second (and third) guess my decision. Over and over again. And it is really hard. Two of the decisions really stand out.

Saratoga Outdoor Wedding with Lawn Games

We both knew we wanted to focus on friends and family, and we wanted to at least have some part of the celebration be outdoors. But that still left a lot to be determined. Ian had said that it would be most significant to him if we got married in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. I had two sick grandparents, and I knew they wouldn’t be able to travel that distance. I pushed and, as I was doing most of the planning (and boy did I resent it), decided to have the wedding in Saratoga Springs, a location that was easier to access for my grandparents. Despite all the logic on my side (equal travel distance for our parents, a home base with my sister who lived in the area, a fun destination for out-of-town guests), I felt like I never convinced Ian of the validity of my decision. The one thing I felt so sure of, and he just didn’t seem that excited.

Saratoga Outdoor Wedding with Lawn Games

To make up for getting “my way” on the location, I felt like I was always trying to dig myself out of a wedding hole, trying to make it live up to some mythical mountain wedding. We had our ceremony outside in a garden. We had a brunch reception (Sunday brunch was a regular thing while we dated in college). I made sure sweet tea—one of Ian’s favorite beverages—was on tap. We skipped dancing and instead played whiffle ball. All things Ian wanted—and I wanted too! But I wasn’t sure if it made up for the location. I felt guilty that I didn’t give him the one big thing he wanted.

Saratoga Outdoor Wedding with Lawn Games

In the morass of wedding planning, I held out hope that finding a wedding dress would be fun and easy. I had tried on a few with my mom when I was home for a visit. My favorite option was a simple but striking bridesmaid’s dress. I didn’t want to settle for the first thing I liked. (Why? I think I was holding out for the “aha” moment, or I like pain, or something.) So I tried on weddings dresses, and they were all just so much—not only expensive, but heavy and hot and overwhelming. So I tried on simpler dresses, but I worried that it was my one chance to wear a big “princess” dress, and I didn’t want to regret not going for it later.

Saratoga Outdoor Wedding with Lawn Games

So I bought a dress that was a little more than I wanted, because I couldn’t trust myself to know what I did want.

Saratoga Outdoor Wedding with Lawn Games

By the week of our wedding, I was starting to let the wedding zen come in, and a day before the wedding, I just decided that I was done with the planning and was going to embrace the experience. It is one of the best decisions that I made. It saw me arranging flowers on the porch in the rain with my sister approximately two hours before the rehearsal was to start. People were so worried about the rain (um, yeah, we were supposed to eat outside), and I could. not. care. less. It was what it was. Why fret about something I couldn’t change? I knew that my family and friends were going to make it work. And they did (small barn + quickly constructed tarp awning = win). And then the rain stopped (even bigger win).

Saratoga Outdoor Wedding with Lawn Games

My emotions hit me like a ton of bricks during the rehearsal. Looking Ian in the eye, hearing him speak his vows—I completely lost it. I teared up, then I started crying. I got all red in the face, and people had to bring tissues. I tried to speak the vows back, and started crying again. I finally squeaked them out in a little high-pitched voice. We’d written the ceremony, including our vows, together. The words contained no surprises. But my emotional response to them astounded me. I knew marriage was a big step, but I felt prepared. I’d checked off all my boxes. We’d had our ups-and-downs and heart-to-hearts. I had embraced the zen! But I don’t think anything could have prepared me for that moment. Or maybe it was the zen that allowed me to be open to that feeling. Either way, what I do know is that it was one of the most intense emotional experiences of my life.

Saratoga Outdoor Wedding with Lawn Games

Looking back on our wedding day, now well over a year ago, it almost seems like a dream—it’s warm and sunny and a bit hazy. I remember feeling very present—that I was both within myself but also riding on the love and energy around me. Moments stand out to me—Ian’s ring getting stuck going on, holding my dad’s hand during family photos, hitting the whiffle ball on the first pitch (we’d had to practice!), hiking up my dress and sitting on the grass with my friends, walking hand-in-hand along the sidewalk and having strangers congratulate us, being utterly exhausted and taking a two hour nap before going out to dinner.

Saratoga Outdoor Wedding with Lawn Games

Despite a day full of joy, it’s taken me a long time to get to the point of happy memories. After our wonderful honeymoon, we had a month of (planned) homelessness and joblessness, which we spent visiting family and friends. It was during this time that a new anxiety hit hard. I’d wake up in the middle of the night thinking, “Now we’re married. Now we can get divorced.” Not that I wanted to get divorced. Far from it. But it was a possibility that had never existed before, and now it was something that could happen to me. Once we settled in our new place, and I confided my horrible-sounding but really-quite-silly-fears in Ian, this anxiety receded.

Saratoga Outdoor Wedding with Lawn Games

I tried to take some time, and process all the changes that we’d gone through (marrying, moving, changing jobs). Reflecting on the last year, I felt guilty about the fact that I hated planning our wedding. I was mad that I didn’t trust myself, that I didn’t stick up for myself to vendors. I resented that I had done most of the planning. I was sad and disappointed that I hadn’t found a better way of working with Ian on the wedding. I worried that it wasn’t the wedding that Ian had wanted.

One night, upset about who-knows-what, Ian came into the bedroom to try to figure out what was going on and to see if he could cheer me up. I let out a long list of worries and fears, ending with the question of if he enjoyed our wedding. “Of course!” was his enthusiastic reply. “Didn’t you? Was there something you didn’t like?” “No, there was nothing I didn’t like. I loved our wedding!”

Saratoga Outdoor Wedding with Lawn Games

I loved our wedding. There, it was out. Somehow I had forgotten that fact. All the stress of the planning had overwhelmed my memories. So I let go of the stress a second time. And Ian and I reminisced about how awesome our wedding was.

If I could go back and give myself some advice, I’d say:

  • Stop stressing out. Just stop. Really, stop! Make a decision, and move on. It is the kindest thing you can do for yourself.
  • Listen to your partner a little more. They may not know what weddings are “supposed” to be like, but they knows what’s important.
  • Trust yourself to know yourself and what you want.
  • When facing the desire to buy a “thing” just because it is pretty or on all the blogs, the mantra “F*** that shit, I don’t need it!” is very helpful.
  • Weddings are not “normal” experiences, and you shouldn’t expect them to be. But finding “normal” things to do that day—for me that was waking up next to Ian, spending the morning with my mom, sisters, and maid of honor, and to not hiding from our guests before the ceremony—kept me grounded.
  • Work with people who are easy to work with. It will make everything so much, well, easier.

Saratoga Outdoor Wedding with Lawn Games

The Info—Photography: Keira Lemonis Venue: The Lodge / Caterer: Terra Luna / Flowers: Heaven Scent / Dress: I Do I Do Wedding Gowns / Invitations, decorations, cakes, cake toppers: Hand-made or passed down from family

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  • Kelly, I love this post! And it’s wonderful to see your gorgeous pictures! I sent this to a recently-engaged friend who has been struggling – I think it’ll help a lot, so thank you.

  • Kelly, this was so honest and beautiful- well done :)

  • I am glad you have come to terms with loving your wedding, and that you were able to let go of all the planning stress, even if it took you a few months. Also this:

    “Stop stressing out. Just stop. Really, stop! Make a decision, and move on. It is the kindest thing you can do for yourself.”

    and this:

    ““F*** that shit, I don’t need it!””

    is the best advise ever. Make a decision and move on. Also, it can be applied to pretty much everything. Here is wishing you all the love and happiness and joy in the world to you both.

    • Shannon

      I have a whole post somewhere in my head about the risk of getting divorced… or growing apart, or having affairs, or falling in love with someone else, or someone getting really really sick, or, or, or… It held me back from committing to my partner for a long time, and some days it still holds me back. Sheesh, getting married sure does involve a whole lot of complex emotional stuff. Thankfully we have APW!!

      • Shannon

        Oops, I meant this to be part of the mini-discussion started by Laura B, ’cause I too was really struck by that part about “Now we’re married. Now we can get divorced.”

  • Laura B

    ““Now we’re married. Now we can get divorced.” Not that I wanted to get divorced. Far from it. But it was a possibility that had never existed before, and now it was something that could happen to me.”

    Oh my goodness yes. I thought I was the only one! Great post.

    • jessie

      THIS! Thank you so much for articulating this – I didn’t realize that this was in my mind until just now, but I realize now how concerned I am about creating opportunities for myself to be hurt, remote as the possibility of divorce might seem. This is a beautiful post, and your wedding (although it clearly didn’t have to be) just happens to be GORGEOUS!

    • meg

      Oh, nope. NORMAL!

    • I’m so glad to see these “exactly”s because I thought I was the only one too!

    • Yes, that was me too! On our honeymoon, no less. Not that I don’t still feel that way sometimes, especially when we’re under stress and more tense than usual, but it was good to have had that conversation so early, for both of us.

  • Kelly, I don’t know what your original wedding dress pick looked like, but the one you chose is absolutely stunning – so elegant and beautiful!

    I’m in the midst of hiring vendors right now and I only let myself look at 3-4 seriously in each category – otherwise I feel like I get caught in a vortex of spinning questions that suck me down and make it impossible to decide anything.

    • Caitlin, it’s okay to look at even less vendors. We decided that, if the price seemed reasonable and we got a good vibe from the vendor, we’d just go with them. So we, ahem, looked at one venue, one cake person, and one florist. We did look at two photographers (well, we met with two — I looked at hundreds). I also met with two hair folks. My main metric was “how does my gut feel?” I usually knew by the end of the meeting and was able to tell the person yea or nay on the spot.

  • Oh I have been the the same boat for the past 9 months. It has been terrible and awful. But it almost over, and if I don’t hand glue little tiny paper flowers on all 120 programs, OH WELL!!!!

    Also – whiffleball? Completely awesome!

  • “F*** that shit, I don’t need it!”

    Exactly! The boy and I have something like this that was adapted from our time as Resident Advisors. We were told to keep our relationship less visible in the walls of our living areas (wtf) because it could tarnish our reputation with our residents (it didn’t) and they’d be less inclined to follow hall rules (they weren’t). The comment was something like, “you should both act more like a professional would around the hall.”

    This turned into the two of us having a mock rant with each other about “who does this professional think he is, setting such high standards,” and then turned into a simple phrase that we typically use in any work/adult situation where we don’t feel the need to act “right” –

    “F*** professional. I hate that guy!”

    I feel like this should be adapted into some kind of wedding mantra. I’ll work on it.
    (It may also be that this story is only funny to Bryan and I. Whoops!)

    • Not only funny to you…sounds like something W and I would do too. Made me smile; thanks for sharing.

    • Ha! Definitely funny.

  • “When Ian and I first got engaged, I wanted to take some time to enjoy it. If I knew what wedding planning was actually like, I would have taken longer than three weeks (do you hear that, those of you just engaged?).”

    This is such great advice. It’s just not quite the same once you get into the planning phase

    • Three weeks is too short, true, but if I had to do it over again, I’d tell the engaged me that a year and a half is way too long to stay in such crazy planning head-space. I thought it would never end.

    • I jumped right into the planning, had a panic attack once we had compiled the ideal guest list from his family, mine and our friends (over 400 people!), and then decided to take a break .

      I told everyone that I was giving up the wedding for lent, and for 40 days I didn’t talk about the wedding, read blogs or plan anything. I just took some time to enjoy being engaged, and it was the best decision I made.

      So basically YES! to taking that time, and for those still in the planning process, there is no reason not to take three weeks (or more) to enjoy the moment, even if you missed doing it at the beginning. In fact, I think I might do it again this spring (about 5 months before my wedding).

      • KateM

        We have also taken a break, the months of November and December nothing wedding (except APW) we both wanted to focus on being together, and enjoying what I think of as the most romantic time of year. In an engagement that is a year and half, you need to step away.

      • A wedding fast – so smart! Good for you.

    • Erica

      My fiancee and I came up with this idea of having a sort-of advent calendar for our engagement. Every month there’s some fun or sweet relationship-building thing like writing each other love letters or doing something together that we’ve never done. We have the other calendar too, the one with the lists of decisions and tasks, but the fun calendar is keeping us focused on what really matters and helping to keep us out of the wedding vortex. Well, at least mostly.

  • I hated wedding planning too. I think listening to my partner a lot more would have made things so so so much easier. He ultimately ended up making most of the decisions… And that was okay. This is def. a post I will be sending to recently engaged friends. It’s such a short, sweet, helpful summary of how to survive wedding planning.

  • Pearlabeth

    I have had the same location based stress! When my fiance and I decided to get married at his parents’ home rather than near my parents, I felt incredibly guilty. While my parents were (outwardly) fine with it, I beat myself up about it. I worried that my parents thought I wasn’t proud of where I am from or that the wedding would be all about his family and that mine would get lost. It was exacerbated by the fact that we see his family easily twice as much as mine (4 hour vs 10 hour car trip). I tried to overcompensate by making sure that everything was 50/50. Guest list, type of food, you name it. At some point, I realized I just had to let it go. I love my family and I’m proud of my roots, and hopefully I’ve made that clear regardless of our wedding location.

  • Sara C.

    Ahhh!! Exactly what I needed: “A backyard wedding! It was like a personality quiz and my choice would somehow define me. It was so completely overwhelming. While I can make a decision in a crisis, a wedding planned over a year let me look around, not make a decision, then make a decision and second (and third) guess my decision. Over and over again. And it is really hard. ”

    I’m knee-deep in the trenches of planning and I keep second guessing myself – why do people think I need a second reception venue? Why can’t we just stay in the same room as the ceremony instead of having everyone traipse across town? Why do I feel the need to provide a morning-after brunch (are guest list is 95% out-of-town)? And why do all the vendors feel the need to charge $20/head for the pleasure? Sigh.

    Thank you for letting me know I’m not the only one mired in second-guessing.

    • Amanda


      We never even *considered* having our morning-after brunch be catered! Hubby & I make pancakes often for brunch, so that’s what we did for our out-of-town guests – invited them to a pancake breakfast (also helps that these are common place in western Canada ala Stampede). Hubby & I purchased a few large skillets, and made to-order pancakes for our guests. It was casual, with drop-in between 9 and 11, I think. We got to chat briefly again with each guest as they waited for their pancakes to cook, and I couldn’t have dreamed a better honeymoon farewell for us. Just a thought :) Also – I don’t think anyone expects a morning-after feeding, so you could forget it all together. Good luck!

    • Hey Sara, here’s what we did for our morning after brunch – we just told people where we’d be getting breakfast, and at what time. They were welcome to join us or not. Simple. Easy.

      And a little piece of advice straight from my mother for when you feel overwhelmed (from wedding trenches or not) – take a deep breath, drink a glass of wine, and do some yoga. Granted, I usually do the yoga before drinking the glass of wine.

      • Sara C.

        Kelly B. – Haha – I feel I would drink the wine before the yoga :-) (But that is good advice – my yoga mat is perpetually laid out behind the couch). And I’m definitely considering this. I have a perpetual “What-would-Miss-Manner’s-Do” running in the back of my head…womp, womp.

        Amanda – I wish, wish, wish that was possible – the problem is that we have *no* access to a serving house. We are both living here for grad school, and are actually having our wedding 45 minutes from our house (but originally chosen because its much closer to the airport, the ceremony/reception could be in the same place (and the chairs were included! win!), so it was more convenient for our guests to get to and from the airport/no need to rent a car/etc.) Though I suppose that people who really wanted to hang out would drive the 45 minutes…:-).

  • carrie

    Your dress is sooooooo beautiful! But I know exactly what you mean. I bought a dress from Nordstrom, an off-white, vaguely Grecian cocktail dress. That was really pretty. Then my mom wanted me to go wedding dress shopping and it was so surreal. I did end up finding my dress on that trip. More traditional than I thought I would wear, but ultimately wonderful. I was telling David last night that I would LOVE to put on a million wedding dresses now. Since there would be no stigma attached to it, I wouldn’t be waiting for the “a-ha moment” and certainly wouldn’t worry about price, or nitpick my body in a certain style of dress. Maybe one day!

    Congrats on a beautiful wedding (and marriage!), and thank you for sharing with us. I feel you in so much of this post!

    • Ok confessions from a crazy girl who just loves dresses (wedding, or other, though not the traditional ones). There was once upon a time the first dress -I tried on when I was not even engaged, and I fell in love with it. It was perfect. Fast forward 8 months, when the boy asked me to marry him, for several different reasons said dress was impossible to find, read a lot more expensive than what I had wanted to spend since getting it would have involved travelling to the neighbour countries to get it. So I found another dress, which I have come to love, but always kept comparing to the first one. Anyway, it was all good in the end, because I was happy with it, the boy loved me in the dress and it was the dress I married in. Well, now my sister is engaged and I went to try on dresses for her (we are talking of dresses that are not sold where she lives, neither where I , but they have shops that store them a 40 min drive and we love city trips). I ended up trying on THE dress (the one I fell in love with) for my husband, along with other dresses that were equally dreamy. I know how crazy it all sounds, and maybe I am a teeny bit obsessed, but I did not plan to even find the dress when I went for little sis’ since it was a dress from 2008 that is not even in the website anymore. Anyway it gave me closure in a way, that the boy saw me in the dress I liked best. So, yes, there would be no stigma to put on a million dresses now, and it can be fun.

  • “I’m the kind of shopper that wants to look at everything before making a decision. That way I can weigh all my options and choose what is best.”

    Me, too! I put things on hold and walk around for a few minutes before making purchases all the time. That process was actually not super helpful with the wedding decisions, though, because the options are virtually infinite and the list of choices to make is seemingly endless. At a certain point it seemed better to just pull the trigger and stop looking back. Easier said than done :)

    • Having external circumstances determine that we couldn’t register for gifts was, in hindsight, one of the BEST and luckiest things that could’ve happened to us during wedding planning. I had so much decision fatigue (am also of the “Must research ALL THE OPTIONS first!” tribe) that I think determining which dishes/towels/sheets/devices we’d be using FOREVER would have just pushed me right over the edge.

      Great post, Kelly! I hope it helps lots of baby brides. :) (And regarding not giving Ian “the one big thing he wanted,” I’d respectfully disagree. After all, he got *you* didn’t he? :D)

      • Yes, registering drove me totally planning-crazy. Which seemed especially silly when items weren’t exactly that same color, or broke surprisingly quickly, or were out of stock, or blahblahblah. I put extra pressure on myself there, though, because of some guilt about asking people to buy things for us; if I’m telling them what to get, it must be the most perfect thing ever.

      • KA

        Oh yea, this is me too. The thought of registering was giving me panic attacks to the point of my boss making me stop working, crack open champagne (oh the joys of home offices) and just add ANYTHING to the registry. And she was totally, totally right. Most people gave off of our honeymoon registry anyway, and of the handful of things we got off our regular registry, I eventually realized a toaster or a salad spinner wasn’t a lifelong commitment!

        And this was a good ‘un, Kelly. You are a wise lady!

    • So many options! Endless options. It’s pretty terrible.

    • This is exactly me, and it’s my boy too. Put us together and we make a great pair of wafflers.

      We let it get the best of us, too! I decided to start a registry at instead of just one big department store. Fabulous idea! We can register for whatever we want, at any store, and pick and choose the best of [insert appliance name here]! I patted myself on the back for this a month or so ago. In theory, this was a perfect idea. In practice, it was horrible! I am that person who will read through pages of reviews and still agonize over a decision and Bryan is all about researching products, so every item became an hour long slog through the internet.

      Last weekend I threw up my hands and deleted the whole thing. We went to Bed, Bath and Beyond for two hours and nearly finished the whole thing. Plus we had a lightsaber battle with the scan guns. Cue huge sigh of relief.

    • Sara C.

      Emily –

      I finally managed to get over the registery – I am planning my life forever what do I pick hump – by noting that I would only register at stores where EVERYTHING is returnable. If I get the item and turns out I don’t like it, I’ll switch it out later. It’s like delayed decision making!


  • KateM

    Great post! Talk about decision overload, it doesn’t matter if you know exactly what you want, or if you want the simplest of weddings, you still have to decide. With so many options you can pretty much always find something cheaper, prettier, “more me”, etc. Stop looking is I think the best advice ever, and the one thing I have passed along more than any other to newly engaged friends.
    On an unrelated note, how much fun is this time of year when your friends are getting engaged too!? Makes me think about that early glow and all the initial excitement of being engaged and helps bring us back to the romance. My sister said that every wedding does the same thing for her and her husband. I am looking forward to that next year! To you newly engaged and pre-engaged, Kelly had it right, take the time to just bask in the joy!

  • Oh man. I can totally relate! Sometimes I am so overwhelmed by the impulse to buy ALL THE THINGS and to have ALL THE WEDDINGS, but my parter has been the one who keeps me grounded. I told him from the beginning, even before we were engaged, that our wedding could be anything we wanted it to be. (I read lots of OBB! Still do). So, when it came to wedding planning, as I was getting moderately overwhelmed, he would come in and help me make decisions, thank heavens. Hell, if he hadn´t picked my engagement ring (he had lots of design input from me, but picked it himself) I probably still wouldn´t have one. I still haven´t been able to pick a wedding ring (the one thing he´s indifferent about) and I´ve only got 3 months to go! Ah! It´s like decision paralyses. I read somewhere that the more options you have the more difficult it become to make a frikkin decision, and personally, I find that to be true.

  • Rhiannon

    Thanks for sharing Kelly. I so relate with the feeling of trying to cater to your partner and resenting that the burden of planning is so lopsided.

    I also had that “Wedding Zen” feeling, If only my engaged self had really believed my mantra of “as long as we are married, the wedding was a success”, I would have been so much happier in the months leading up to it. Great advice, your brides are lucky to have you as a wedding elf! I hope we see some wedding shot by you soon :)

  • Brides-to-be, take ALL of this wise advice to heart! Great post, Kelly.

  • Tamara Van Horn

    Um, the hair. Loves.

  • “F*** that shit, I don’t need it” – yep, we used it too and it doesn’t sneak up on you until late in the planning. I wished I had used that more in the beginning too.

    Advice to those in the trenches of planning: yes, take a month or two (or three) to peruse the pretty blogs out there, immerse yourself in the loveliness, etc. for inspiration and ideas BUT then stop. Go on what I call the APW diet. After looking at nothing but pretty blogs for way too many months, feeling overwhelmed, trying to fit in a box they created (not everyone gets to have that perfect backyard/farm/ranch with pretty-furniture wedding), and not sure where to turn I found APW and decided to go on the APW diet. Nothing but APW for a month. No pretty blogs, other wedding blogs, nothing but APW. Best decision I made and really helped keep me on track about what was important, helped me sort out the drama that I had been ignoring, and look at real and equally pretty weddings of other APWers.

    Kelly, your post is beautiful and so true. Yep, f*** that shit, I still don’t need it. :)

  • T. Rose

    “I’m the kind of shopper that wants to look at everything before making a decision. That way I can weigh all my options and choose what is best.”

    Oh, I relate to that so much! I am in the midst of planning right now (which is mostly research, research, research…). I’m going to take your advice here to trust myself, make a decision, and move on so that I can start to enjoy this process before it’s over.

    Thanks for this post, Kelly!

    • You can do it! It is so hard not to second guess every decision but if it sits well the first time then go with it.

  • Jen M

    It seems like a lot of us fear ease of planning. Like with your dress: you can’t like the first one you try, it’s too easy! I’ve certainly been second guessing a lot of my decisions because they’ve come easily. I’ve found that there is not a parade with every decision I make. Perhaps we’ve been brainwashed into thinking that it should all feel momentous and transformative or just plain difficult- from picking your dress to picking your napkin rings. I’m having to train myself to mentally kick myself in the ass whenever I second-guess a decision that was stress-free.

  • Oh, thank you Kelly. I needed this today. I am deep in the very heart of darkness right now with wedding planning decisions and headaches. Reading this reminded me that this is a normal reaction for sane people in the face of the madness that is the wedding industry.

    • Oh Clarissa, heart of darkness? That made me want to laugh and cry simultaneously, because I totally get it. Good luck!

  • Caroline

    Kelly, you encapsulated everything I am feeling right now. Thank you…I’m planning my wedding and I’ve felt guilty over not enjoying the planning process. Your post has really helped me.

  • ElisabethJoanne

    First, your hair was lovely.

    Second, “Work with people who are easy to work with. It will make everything so much, well, easier.” Thank you. We’re just about to book our photographer, and we chose based on price and business-personalities clicking. It’s not quite the APW (or any wedding blog) way (skimping on photography! egads! your photographer will never be your best friend! egads!), but we know spending hours looking at pictures of ourselves is just not something we’ll do once, let alone for decades. “Trust yourself to know yourself and what you want,” comes into play with this unusual lack of priority. It was important to me that I feel certain this major purchase of photography services go smoothly.

    “When facing the desire to buy a “thing” just because it is pretty or on all the blogs, the mantra “…I don’t need it!” is very helpful.” It’s amazing how each “thing” involves a dozen related headaches. A library had a used book sale – a whole bag for $2. My fiance said, “We could give books for favors! [which would be very “us”] Wouldn’t that be cheaper than other favors?” To which I responded, “Not cheaper than no favors, which is our current plan.” Also, even apart from the money (1), we’d have to select the books (2), and get them to the reception venue (3), and make a sign or announcement that everyone should take one home (4), and arrange them (5), and deal with left overs (6), and store them until after the wedding (7). One theoretically good idea for a “thing” suddenly gives 7 headaches. If I decided used books were too ugly on their own for a wedding, and wanted to tie ribbons around them…

    Finally, “Listen to your partner a little more. They may not know what weddings are “supposed” to be like, but they knows what’s important.” And even when they DO know what weddings are “supposed” to be like, they STILL know what’s important.

  • Kelly,

    Thank you for sharing this! I was the same way with decision-making. So many pretty things, so hard to choose! It is so easy to fall under pressure.

    I also felt wedding zen and wish that I could channel that into my daily life. We did our own flowers, music, and food. I could not have felt more at peace when the shit hit the fan. We did a little yoga the morning of and had a great time getting ready for our morning wedding. Everything wasn’t rosy but I felt zen with my close friends and family surrounding me.

    Thank you for bringing back sweet memories!

  • I know you kind of settled for the dress, but OMG GORGEOUS. I adore the draping in the bust area.

  • Allison

    I love this kind of post – the kind where people tell you to make a decision, move on, and live with it.

    I’m a DIY kind of person, and I love gathering lots and lots of ideas. But I’m already stressed with the idea that I have to choose every single little freaking thing, from flowers to napkin colors to invitation fonts to music. I have decision fatigue, and I’ve been engaged less than three months and only scratched the surface of wedding planning.

    There’s so much pressure on people (women) to make their weddings super unique and the perfect expression of their love. So much pressure, in fact, that people end up feeling guilty for doing perfectly reasonable things like accommodating elderly relatives by making a practical choice about location.

    Sometimes you just have to pick something, then let go, confident you made the choice for the right reasons. This is something I’m learning.

  • Kelsey

    I cannot thank you enough for sharing this. As soon as I read the words, “Jane Austen”, I knew that we were kindred spirits. I am just beginning my foray into wedding planning, but I hope to follow your advice and not get so stressed about decisions that I make (or don’t make) while putting this thing together! Thank you so much!

  • Kat

    I just started perusing this blog today. If I had only looked at the pictures without reading the words in your post I would have thought “damn it, another perfect wedding! Woe is me, mine won’t be that lovely and stress free and PERFECT.” Girl, thank you for injecting some reality in this wedding planning stuff. Thank you for being so honest and putting down in (virtual) ink all of my anxieties and fears and showing me that IT WILL BE OK!

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