Your Wedding Is Not Timeless

You can't escape the zeitgeist.

Back when I was planning my wedding, I read lots of blog posts about what people would do if they had to plan their wedding again. They all have faded into a nebulous blob, but the series I remember clearly ran a little bit after I got hitched: ESB’s If I Got Married Now… Unsurprisingly, the posts in this series were excellent, and fabulously stylish. I, however, didn’t get them, at the time. In most of these posts, women who were already hitched said that if they were going to do it all again they’d go with some combination of riskier and simpler. “I’d wear a short blue dress, and I’d elope.” These kinds of posts never felt helpful to me, because I’d think, “Well sure, it’s easy to say you’d wear a little gold dress and have a tiny ceremony, if you already had the long white dress and big party experience.” Turns out, I was sort of wrong.

First, let me be frank: if we were having another wedding, I’d still wear an awesome white dress and have a big party. Hell, the dress would be more dramatic and the party would be larger. But what I didn’t understand was that all those ladies were saying, “I’d take more risks.” And that’s where they were right (and I was wrong). If I got married now… I’d take more risks, because I know there is no such thing as a timeless wedding, so I’d stop playing it safe.

Did you catch that? There is no such thing as a timeless wedding.

This August will be our fourth wedding anniversary. Four years doesn’t seem that long to me (possibly since this year will also be our ninth anniversary of being a couple), but it’s long enough. Four years ago, when I was making my wedding style choices, I dialed everything down a few notches. I wanted our wedding photos to look classy for years after the fact. I wanted to look bridal and beautiful. I didn’t want to look back and think, “Oh my god, what was I thinking?” And I made good choices. My best choices were my risker ones (last minute vintage dress!) but all of them were solid. But if I had to do it over, I’d dial it up. Four years later, our wedding photos already look dated. Four years later I realize there is no such thing as timeless. There is just owning your particular moment in time, or trying to gloss over it.

We got married in 2009, and that date is etched all over our photos. I have the tea length dress, the big hair flower, the mismatched bridesmaid dresses, the vintage filter on our photos. There are the Polaroids, taken on some of the last Polaroid film (hurrah for embracing the moment with those Polaroids). There is no way to look at those wedding photos and think, “This wedding could have taken place yesterday.” No. That wedding took place in 2009. And thank God, because of that, we have four happy years of marriage under our belt.

Last week, I was looking back at a W Magazine retrospective on weddings. There was the early 70s boho wedding dress. The late 70s skirt and suit jacket at the courthouse. (I’m skipping the 80s, because it was grim in the wedding department.) The mid 90s simple sheath. The 00s strapless ball-gowns. They were all beautiful, but none of them were timeless. The best ones were brave in their of-the-time-ness.

If I had to do it all over again, I’d marry the same partner, please and thank you. I’d spend the money to rent part of San Francisco’s city hall for the ceremony. I’d have a backyard reception at our house, where we only spent on food and didn’t bother much with the details. (I know. How zeitgeist-y. But that’s the idea.)

I’d rock an enormous bun, an edgy skirt (probably still tea length, I know what looks good on my figure) and some feathers. I’d stop worrying about finding a timeless engagement ring, and buy an artisan ring I love already. (I don’t wear that timeless engagement ring much anymore anyway, and I’ll sure as shit ask for a new ring for our fifth/tenth anniversary next year.) I’d stick with high-as-hell shiny heels (because I still wear my wedding shoes all the time). I’d have a cat eye, and red lips. And I’d have a huge, bright bouquet. It’s all so 2013, and that’s the whole point.

There is no way to escape time. There is no endgame around mortality. We’re living in this particular moment, and no matter what we do, time will keep marching on, dating all of us. So forget about timeless. That simple white strapless dress is going to tie you to the moment just as much as a risker choice. Wear the simple strapless dress if you love the simple strapless dress. But if you were pondering, maybe, what it would be like to go all spangles (yup, that’s the dress Maddie would wear if she were doing it again), fuck it. Go for it.

The further you are from your wedding day, the prouder you’ll be of your long and happy marriage. I didn’t get married in 2013. I got married in 2009, and I want you to know that. So embrace the zeitgeist. Give yourself permission to go big or go home.

Though I just remembered. I wore hot pink ruffly boy short underwear on my wedding day. That, I’d do again in a heartbeat.

Credits on style board, clockwise from top left: Satomi Kawakita vertical bar ring ($390) / Kiara’s amazing sock bun as photographed by Emma Case from this Wordless Wedding / Twigs & Honey, no longer in stock / Photo byThe Nichols, flowers by The Nouveau Romantics / Amazing red lipstick as shot by One Love Photo / BCBGMAXAZRIA ‘Peacock’ Pump from Nordstrom  / Bridesmaids mixing patterns as shot by Max Wanger from 100 Layer Cake / Risky dress by Caroline Flach found at Bride in LA ($1500) shot by Rad + In Love for East Side Bride / 


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  • Kristen

    I love this. When I first read the title I thought it sounded a bit snarky, but seeing the actual context, it’s more like a gift to future brides.

    I find the “if I could do it again…” type posts confusing because thinking of having to plan a wedding again makes my skin crawl. I was spectacularly bad at it so I’ll cut my losses there.

    But I would get married again to my husband. In fact I asked for our anniversary in 3 months for him to take me to the JP and marry me again because I’m about 10 times as in love with him as I was on our wedding day so it only seems right we get married again. Something tells me I might have to marry my husband about a hundred more times throughout our lives.

  • Such a true post meg; a long one but very interesting I must confess. Looking back at my wedding and I definitely feel the same way as I should have taken more risks too; inexpensive ones though. Heheh

  • I often feel this way about APW but this post is one I want to print and give to all my engaged friends right now. I wish we’d been more risky in our choices (but then I LOVE risk) but our wedding one year ago was totally us then. So you know, I always (thanks to APW) knew that as long as it was the right wedding for us then, to hell with it being timeless or classy or elegant or whatever else people say it has to be. We made the choices we made and (eventually) owned them. And we had a kick arse party and someone was sick in the River Thames (take that classy). But yes. This is so right. Thank you! x

    • Eva

      Give them this post too:

      I love those dated photos of relatives with terrifying 80’s poof sleeves and polyester suits. I can’t wait to see what is cheesy about my wedding in 20 years.

      • I’m doing a wedding album right now for a 25th anniversary and it is glorious in its puffy-haired, puffy-sleeved, hot pink satin of-the-timeness. There is something so joyful for me about not only seeing this slice of the past, but knowing that they remember it so fondly they want to look at it all again.

        I remember sitting in my grandmother’s parlor looking at old wedding albums and being able to date them by the clothes and hairstyles, even for relatives I couldn’t identify. It gives such a sense of history.

  • Rachel

    I love this! I think the word “timeless” really just means “doesn’t make you cringe in 30 years” anyway. Like, Grace Kelly was not a “timeless” bride…when we say that it just means that we can still love the dress she wore now. But…aside from the 80s, I kinda feel like most wedding looks are still really lovable now, you know? Also, isn’t the thing we love about looking back at our parents’ and grandparents’ wedding photos the fact that they are of a particular era? If people didn’t follow the trends of the day, these photos would be far less interesting/fun, something I try to keep in mind when I’m worried that something might be “too trendy.” Like, our grandkids aren’t going to look at our wedding photos and be like “UGH MASON JARS. EVERYONE HAD THEM.” They’ll be like, “Aww, look, the mason jars that everyone had at that time!”

    Also, I just re-read your shoe post and it made me happy. I just emailed my mom last week about a pair of shoes I already own that are somewhere in her house; it occurred to me that they might be perfect wedding shoes. I had actually be thinking, “But they’re probably kind of scuffed up now…” CLEARLY IT MATTERS NOT!

    • Cleo

      “Like, our grandkids aren’t going to look at our wedding photos and be like “UGH MASON JARS. EVERYONE HAD THEM.” They’ll be like, “Aww, look, the mason jars that everyone had at that time!””

      This exactly! I hadn’t thought of it that way before, but it makes perfect sense! Brillant paradigm shift!

      • meg

        Can I tell you how cool it is that my great grandmother got married in her full flapper outfit with the asymmetrical skirt and everything? Her kids mocked her, I’m sure her proper mother was horrified, I’m sure it was super trendy (obviously). But… how awesome. I’m so glad she didn’t just wear some traditional gown. It was the 20’s, after all, embrace it!

        So yeah, EXACTLY.

    • Laura

      Exactly so much. I love that my wedding was traditional, in that I had a white dress and got married in a church because that was important to me, but I was very passionate that no one use the word “timeless” during my wedding planning. As the family historian (especially photo historian), my favorite part of looking at family wedding pictures is how of the time they are. My great-grandma’s 1920s dress and MONSTER flapper veil, my grandma’s 1940s peplum dress and WWII curls, my mother’s 1970s high necked dress and pouf veil, even my aunt and uncle’s 1980s puffed-sleeved affair (though the bride herself lucked out by wearing her mother’s amazing 1950s lace dress). The time stamped details are part of what make those pictures so special. Having the wedding you want and owning/rocking your choices is what matters the most.

  • js

    I got married in 2012. We had a destination wedding. I felt like a princess in my ruffle-y wedding dress. Our daughter was our only wedding party and that was so special. But our candy buffet, our wedding photography, even my husband’s suit, were all very trendy and I say hell yeah! I’m so proud of our wedding. So glad the planning of said wedding is over. And I love watching the video and looking at the wedding album of cheesy photos because it still feels shiny and new. I remember that feeling of finally marrying my partner so well. I hope that’s timeless.

  • SJ

    I’m getting married in a ballgown in a backyard wedding…with mason jars, flowers and TARDIS blue shoes. Because I can. :) Take that, timeless.

    • Hannah K

      loving the idea of “TARDIS blue” becoming a thing. hee!!

      • Oh, it is more than a thing. The BBC-approved Tardis Blue is Pantone 2955C. You know…in case you were wondering >_>

      • Charis

        Makes a nice change from ‘Tiffany’ blue :)

  • Kate

    This makes me feel a whole lot happier about not listening to the timeless brigade, thinking ‘screw it’ and wearing a wedding dress with spots on! :) Thank you!!

  • KB

    Amen to this – GO BIG OR GO HOME!!! You don’t have to spend gobs of money to “go big” when it comes to weddings. It means saying to yourself, “Let’s cut all the crap we don’t like and say screw it to people who disapprove of choices that aren’t WIC-friendly.” I think, at the end of the day, most brides would rather have their guests say, “That wedding was SO THEM” rather than “Wow, that looked like a Pinterest/Martha Stewart/Southern Living wedding.”

  • Going into planning our wedding, I knew it wouldn’t look timeless, and I really didn’t want it to. It helped make some choices a lot easier, like the red hair flower my mom made for me, and the red satin shoes and saying “NO!” to a reception dress (seriously. I paid a lot of money for that dress and by gum I wore it until I HAD to take it off and probably would have slept in it if I could have). My wedding was just a couple months ago and I am still riding on the wedding glow. I know if we had gotten married four years ago our wedding would have been a lot different – and that’s OK :-)

  • I was not aware that tea length dresses or hair flowers “dated” a wedding. Honestly I don’t think I could tell the difference between a 2009 and a 2013 wedding. I don’t see what’s all that different about what you posted here and what you actually did. And I don’t see at all how my wedding looks dated at 2010 now. To me it looks like the same wedding, and I feel like it could happen again more or less the same way.

    In fact, I’m kind of surprised that this sort of “dating” could even be picked up on. I can understand 80s-90s-00s-10s dating, by approximate decade (I notice things tend to actually change closer to the 5s – so 75-85, 85-93 or so, 93-2000, 2000-2007, 2007-2013…).

    Maybe I’m just really unstylish and really not good at picking out trends? But what is the real trend difference between your bun and bright flowers and backyard foodie wedding, and your vintage tea-length and Polaroids from 2009?

    I just don’t…see…it. At all.


    • Caroline

      So I’ve been reading wedding blogs for about that long, and it’s subtle. It is not the same difference as, say, 75 to 95. The colors have changed ( things were pretty pale in 2009 trends, and super colorful reds/oranges/yellows are in now, last year it was all grey and yellow but lots of color seems to be back) colorful shoes are in now, big big flowers (crowns, bouquets, whatever just make them big and colorful), big flower crowns in bright colors instead of the single white/cream/silver/gold
      fabric hair flower, dresses with sleeves are back in style. But lots of things are the same: tea length dresses, mason jars, rustic chic. It’s a definite but subtl difference.

      I don’t think it matters wether or not you feel your 2010 wedding was dated. It’s just fine to not feel that way. I think maybe Meg’s post was more that in 30 years, today’s weddings will look so late 00’s, and that’s okay.

      • Laura C

        Exactly. The way my best friend (who worked in fashion market research for a while) puts it is there’s a difference between the trends that let you see what decade something is from and the trends that let you see what year it’s from.

      • Exactly – now its all about the bold colors. The watercolor-y look is very 2008-2011. And I hated the gray/yellow from last year! Thank God that’s gone! It felt like a combo between a sunny day and a rainy day!

        Things other than traditional wedding cake are still in vogue, but instead of cupcakes (which was BIG a couple years ago, and you’ll still see that quite often), you’ll see pies, layer cakes, dessert bars, and cake shots. Dresses-that-are-not-strapless started gaining popularity in late 2011, and it don’t think its reached its peak quite yet (all the brides I know getting married this year are wearing sleeves…). I think mason jars have just about hit their peak, and I think we will start to see less of those over the next couple years.

        Trends on the decline: wearing Chucks, photobooths, candy bars (other types of bars are very in), dresses with pick-ups, and the dyed colored petticoats. Of course there will be brides that still use these trends, but its not as trendy as it was 2008 – 2011.

        • Rachel

          I agree with so many things on your list and I’d add some other things that feel very “now” to me:

          – Chalkboards
          – Typography
          – Cool glassware/straws
          – Fascinators/birdcage veils
          – Graphic patterns/bright colors (think hot pink and turquoise chevron) with gold details
          – Gatsby-inspired details (feathers, cap sleeves, headbands)

          Another color change that I think is going to make my wedding look “so 2013” is the shift to these sort of muted neutrals…lots of cream/beige/dove gray/blush. I love that palette so that’s totally OK with me!

        • Liz

          I really think the dresses-that-are-not-strapless (as well as the surge in lace dresses) are due to Kate Middleton’s dress in April 2011. Major trendsetter!

          And, for the record, my dress for my October 2013 wedding has a lace overlay with a gold sash. :o)

          • Carolyn

            A little pissed about Kate’s timing, btw. Maybe I sound smug, but I wish she’d ushered in that trend about a year earlier. There was nary a lace non-strapless dress when I desperately wanted on in 2010.

          • I made a point of finding a dress with lace and sleeves, and that was in September 2010, but boy were those dresses hard to find. (Mostly Spanish and French brands would carry them).

            @Rachel I would say chalkboards and glass and mismatched flowers (I just came from the fields and nonchalantly put them together in this jars that were around) were also around 3 years ago.

    • meg

      I can see it, but I look at weddings every day, so I can see trends on a more micro scale. So yeah, hair flowers, tea length dresses, vintage photo processing: they all still happen now, but they were at their peak when I got hitched. It doesn’t matter that you can’t see that our wedding is dated now. You’ll be able to see it in 10 years, I guarantee it.

      The reason my current board looks similar (if you’re not particularly trend conscious), is just that I have a defined aesthetic, and that’s not going to change over the years. My aesthetic was the same in 1996 too, but all the photos of me then still look dated. Awesome, to my eyes, but dated.

      But end of the day: if you don’t give a shit about trends, that’s great. And this isn’t really a post that applies to you, so ignore it.

      • I have nothing witty to add today, just that I love everything about the original post, and this comment.

      • Alyssa

        I refuse to believe that huge hair flowers aren’t timeless. They’re clearly always appropriate.

      • Emily

        Before I started working here and looking at wedding photos all the time, I would have totally not believed you. But I found myself saying, “Yeah, that’s very in right now,” about some actress’ dress the other day while my mother and I were flipping through a People while getting our nails done, so I know it’s true. ha

        • meg

          I say that to family all the time, people think I’m nuts. But. Knowing what’s on trend pays the billz, so joke is on them. Feminism!

      • Class of 1980

        Two things …

        It’s always the photos with outfits that most defined an era that people want to look at. Do I want to look at 13 year-old me (1971) in something “timeless” or in a mini dress and boots or a peasant maxi dress? I think we know the answer. ;)

        On the eighties dresses … yes so many were dismal, but the early eighties had some upscale ballgown dresses with minimal detail and streamlined sleeves that were gorgeous. They felt very current because we had come out of nearly two decades of empire waists. The really bad stuff happened in the later eighties.

        • meg

          Someone who got married in the late 80’s came up to me on our wedding day and said, “I’m mad at you. Your dress is so great, and mine is so tremendously awful. I got married during the worst of wedding dresses. I’m mad.”

          (And it’s true, I always get disappointed if my parents don’t have photos of them wearing of the era stuff. Boo.)

          • Class of 1980

            Consider the sixties. Who’s going to look cooler in retrospect?

            The ones who played it safe? Or the ones who embraced the crazy? I say if you didn’t embrace the crazy at least some of the time, you missed out. ;)

    • Here’s the thing.

      I STILL don’t see it.

      In 2010, when I got married, we had lots of bright colors and honestly, a lot of people I know did, too (keep in mind that, planning this wedding from Taiwan and the only people I knew getting married that year were us, and my brother-in-law to be, who eloped, so by “people I know” I mean “people on Offbeat Bride”). I don’t see the difference in color palettes at all. I see that in the late 00s you could go watercolors/antique tones, but you could also go bright colors. And strapless was already on its way out (or maybe that’s just because I didn’t hang with a community of brides who would be exposed to much strapless).

      Chalkboards and typography? Also kind of “in” in 2010 when I got married.

      So…no, I still don’t see it.

      It is probably in part just me: I’m not trendy or stylish at all (I wear the same green t-shirt with robots on it approximately 3 times a week and would wear it more if I didn’t have to wash it), so while I can pick out decade trends, I just don’t see the subtler trends. So when I hear “it’s subtle but definite” I think “no, it’s not even subtle to me, and I don’t see how it’s definite”.

      I am pretty creative/visual, so you’d think I’d notice these things, but I really haven’t.

      But I think in part it isn’t me: I just don’t see what the big diff is, or even the importance, of, say, “big bun hair and cat eye” and “big flower hair and…whatever eye was popular in 2009”.

      To me it’s like saying “last year leopard was in, this year it’s jaguar”.

      So…sorry. :(

      I still don’t see it.

      I get Meg’s point about looking back 30 years from now at her wedding, but to say that 2009-2013 “dates” your wedding? Nope, don’t see it. Meg’s doesn’t look dated to me, either. And looking back at all the Offbeat Brides who got married around when I did and their weddings, they also don’t seem dated. In 30 years they will, but for now they don’t.

      • The editor isn’t working for me so I’ll add here.

        I guess you could say this post doesn’t apply to me, but as a visual person, I feel like it *should* so it’s a bit of cognitive dissonance that it doesn’t. You’d think a creative and visual person (I’ve made real ca$h money off creative endeavors, from hand-beaded jewelry to photography to writing) would be able to spot trends, no?

        Maybe it’s forced me to see in stark clarity that while I may be creative, I’m not on top of trends at all? And it’s something I’d never even thought to consider before?

  • Teresa

    I loved my wedding dress (and everyone called it classic and timeless–we’ll see, it’s only been 11 months!), but I wish I would have been brave enough to wear a blush pink wedding dress!

  • mimi

    25 days to go and I think I’m taking enough risks, but we’ll see ;) Based on this, though, the wedding will be very obviously 2013. Outdoor rustic destination (northern Michigan), with a food truck (bbq), live band (motown & newer covers), pies, milk bottle & mason jar vases, tin can lanterns, photo booth, wildflower DIY arrangements and bouquets, floral bridesmaid dresses, etc. I was planning to wear blue glitter Toms under my dress, but it’s pretty fitted in front and I didn’t like seeing so much shoe, so I switched to sparkly gold sandals instead. I can’t wait for the day and I can’t wait to look back at my pictures in a few years!!

  • Emmy

    My mom wore a hippie-inspired white lace dress with puffy sleeves and an empire waist; my dad wore a tan corduroy three-piece suit with bell bottoms. She had Dorothy Hamill hair and carried a bouquet of yellow and white roses and he had a handle-bar mustache. It pretty much screams 1970s. But I love looking at their pictures because they look so young and in love and happy! And I love that it looks like the 1970s, because that is in fact when they got married.

    I tried to stay away from flash-in-the-pan trends for my wedding, but it is very much 2013. It’s in a backyard with mason jars and twinkle lights! But I’ve also made some daring decisions that were questioned: hot pink dress, Frida Kahlo hair, no bridal party. Like my parents’ wedding, I expect it will be both totally us and very much of its time.

    • MOE

      I want Frida Kahlo hair!!! Her green wedding peasant dress was pretty awesome too.

  • Kestrel

    I think there is a way to make things timeless though – to make them absolutely true to yourself.

    Now, granted, this supposes that you won’t change all that much throughout your life which is obviously false, but there are some things about me that haven’t changed since I was old enough to remember!

    It reminds me of Anna Wintour who has had the same haircut for as long as I or anyone can remember. That haircut is timeless on her because she has worn it through all of those times. It suits her and she keeps on wearing it.

    That’s what I hope our wedding will show – that it suits us and that we’ll likely keep doing the same things. Neither of us are terribly trendy, so we do tend to choose things that are more ‘classics’.

    And while certain things about our wedding will certainly be dated (we’re having an Up! themed wedding so obviously that will date it!) I think that the overall day won’t scream 2014!!!! but rather LOOK IT’S US!! and yes, we still wear that hideous thing because we like it.

    • meg

      Go with what you love. I did, I have a pretty defined aesthetic that hasn’t changed much in… ack… almost 20 years. It’s still dated by trends though, and thank god, is all I have to say. I’d be so sad if photos of me from the 90s didn’t look like they were from the 90s.

  • Caroline

    Thank you so much for encouraging us wedding undergrads to take risky choices. I feel like right now, we’re definitely doing it, but it’s good to remember to keep doing so. Our plan so far is a self catered wedding, my mom bakes the cake (her first wedding cake, although she’s practicing), wedding on my mom’s patio, sending someone to the farmer’s market to buy tons of colorful ( red/yellow/orange) flowers the morning of and sticking them in jars (although I second thought, since we mostly want sunflowers we may need taller containers), welcome dinner pizza party the night before. I’m hoping to get/make my sister one of those giant flower crowns to rock as maid of honor. Basically, super 2013, but also awesome.

  • Allison

    I do think my wedding pics will be somewhat “timeless”, but only in that I chose things that I liked, trends be damned. The hot pink shoes and dresses and ties and cake trimmings and flowers are there because I love hot pink. The dress is tea-length and fluffy because I love the retro prom dress look. Even if in 20 years it looks “so 2013”, that’s okay, because I got married in 2013 in a dress that looked like 1958, because it’s what I love at this time. So what I’m basically saying is – if you pick what you love, and it represents you at that moment in time, it will be timeless in its own way because it will always be true to who you were and are as a couple.

  • Sarah

    This idea really helped me in my wedding planning. We had a short engagement purposely so that we could go ahead with our plans without a lot of input from people. I liked that we only had to do what was right for us in the moment. We invited the people who are in our life right now and didn’t stress about people from our past or wondering about who might be most important in our future. Looking at the magazine racks in the grocery store I noticed that my “unique” colour scheme seems to be right on trend for this summer instead of being a departure. Whatever. I picked colours I like. Time and time again I hear that those details don’t matter after your wedding day. As for looking back and laughing at our wedding pictures? Why not? Don’t we all laugh at our prom pictures too? Why should our wedding pictures be timeless?

  • I got married a year ago, and somehow forgot to worry about our wedding being timeless. I wore a short teal dress, not because I was trying to take a risk, but because it felt right and all the white dress options felt wrong. In terms of the kinds of details you are talking about, I only would have changed my choice of shoes – I wore almost-flat sandals, picking comfort over heels, but they turned out to be uncomfortable anyway. So I would wear heels.

    But in terms of things that really mattered to me, what I would change about the wedding is I would have gotten married about 9 months earlier. That way, my grandparents and my best friend would have been able to attend (but who can plan for debilitating illness and pregnancy, respectively, one year ahead of time).

  • I wasn’t thinking timeless when we got married. I was thinking…how can we make this wedding be the best of us and how in the hell are we going to accommodate 200 of our nearest and dearest on this tiny budget? And I think we did it really well. A year later, I think I’d make most of the same choices. We had an awesome ceremony, and folks really seemed to enjoy the reception. We drank, we laughed, we sat around and talked. Every once in awhile we danced. Everything fit us.

    Best of all…at the end of the day, I got married to my sweet husband. So it’s all good. ;)

  • Rachelle

    I loved this so much more than I expected to :) So true! Especially:

    “The further you are from your wedding day, the prouder you’ll be of your long and happy marriage. I didn’t get married in 2013. I got married in 2009, and I want you to know that.”

    I never thought of it that way!

  • Breck

    I don’t have anything significant to add, but I really, really love this and agree 100%.

  • Emily

    When my sister got married in 2004, my mom was very proud to have recommended she get a French manicure so that all my sister’s pictures of her hand wearing the ring would be timeless. Of course, her one “timeless” idea TOTALLY dates the pictures to 2004, when French tips were considered super classy.

    • Kestrel

      Yeah, I’m gonna have to say that the only way to be truly timeless is to go naked and not modify your body in any way. No haircuts, no manicure, no makeup, etc. Then you’re just human, that’s it.

      I also think this might be frowned upon in most societies!

      • Lindsey d.

        My fiance has definitely already suggested a Betazoid wedding a la Star Trek TNG.

        • LOVE.

        • Sunflower

          I love your fiance. That is a wonderful idea.

  • Lindsey d.

    At my parents’ wedding in 1974, my mom actually looked pretty timeless in the gown my grandmother wore at her 1944 wedding, although I guess you can call the long, long, long sleeves pretty dated now. However, my dad and his groomsmen in their white, patterned tuxedo jackets look like they are wearing wallpaper… It is so dated, so early 70s and so awesome.

    At my 2014 wedding (my parents’ and my fiance’s parents’ 40th anniversary year), I’ll be wearing that same gown my mother and grandmother wore, but updated to remove the sleeves. I don’t really care about timeless, but I do hope it’s all sentimental.

    • Sam A

      I did pretty much the same thing, (waaay) back in 2011 – wore my grandmother’s 64 year old dress, minus sleeves and a few ‘me’ extras. Gotta say, timeless or not – the photo where i am in that dress, dancing with my (now departed) grandpa, just like he did, with her all those years ago – *still* one of my top 3 moments of a lifetime. Enjoy!!

      • Lindsey d.

        Aw! My grandfather is already gone, but I can’t wait for the three generations of dress wearers picture!

  • LoLauren

    Thanks for the pep talk to make riskier choices and just go with what makes you happy. I needed this and will be bookmarking it for future reminders. I also loved looking through all of ESB’s posts which gave me some more dress-mojo courage!

  • Justanotherblue

    Yes! We’re using origami flowers made of old books and maps, letterpress tiles, succulents, and vintage glassware, because we love those things, fully aware that they will date our wedding as OMG so 2013. I’ll be wearing a tea length dress, a vintage cardigan and a rhinestone sash…because I love them, knowing full well that they will be as eye roll inducing in 20 years as my aunts huge puffy 80s butchers the Victorian era dress is today. 2013 is the year that I will be marrying the best man I know. Our backyard foodie wedding will feature some “trends” that we like now that we might not like five years from now. And that’s ok. Because well look as happy in our wedding photos as my parents look in their wedding photos, she in that 70s suit and he in bell bottom jeans and a Nehru jacket. And really that’s all that matters.

    • Breck

      I want to exactly this a million times.

  • My parents’ wedding photos SCREAM 1968 and it’s awesome. Bridesmaids in olive green dresses and beehive hairdos, groomsmen in slim suits with skinny ties, lots of horn-rimmed glasses all around. It’s hard to see less than a year later what will scream 2012 at our kids, but I hope they enjoy it.

    • meg


      See. That’s what I’m talkin’ about.

  • MOE

    thank you!

    I Just Could Not wear a traditional bridal look. It felt wrong. (for me)

    I opted to wear big eyelashes (my niece talked me into double-stacking), red lips, leopard print shoes and a bling-y statement necklace. I threw on a leopard-print cardigan when I got cold. I wore a simple birdcage because at 40 I just felt silly wearing a long elaborate veil. (my own hang-up I admit)

    I looked at my photos and then began looking at photos from friends who also recently got married and I felt kind of dorky for not following tradition. I’ve been kicking myself thinking “couldn’t you just be normal on your wedding day?”

    Big hair, red lips, animal print, sparkles and glamour is me though. I know it came from my mom who has always had red nails and a red lip since I could remember.

    So maybe one day, if I’m lucky a future daughter of mine will look at my wedding photos and say “mom, have you always worn red lipstick?”

    • I felt exactly the same way.

      The traditional wedding look was NOT working for me. I had a dramatic red lip, very short dyed red hair, a short dress that make me feel good, purple cardigan, and blue shoes. I worried I wouldn’t look “like a bride” enough on my wedding day, and maybe I didn’t. But I looked crazy happy and like ME.

    • meg

      And if your daughter doesn’t, some granddaughter is going say, “Granny was soooo cooooooooool.”

      When are you sending in that wedding, by the way? Achem.

      • MOE

        Actually, I’m about to hit send. eeeek!

  • Alexandra

    Mismatched bridesmaid dresses are 2009?? WHAT??

    My mom is just finishing up a massive FIT about me having ordering my Little Borrowed Dresses in different shades and styles for my bridesmaids. “It’ll be SOOOOOOO dated!!!”

    Um…Mom? Your bridesmaids wore giant, floppy white sun hats, white blouses with big collars, and satin salmon colored floor length skirts with flounces. It was beautiful, but hello, early ’70’s. It’s impossible not to be dated.

    I thought I was on the cutting edge with my mismatched bridesmaids! Dang it!

    Oh well. I still like the idea of everybody looking a little different from each other. Can anyone give me some reassurance that this is still a trend?

    • Catherine McK

      My bridesmaids wore different dresses (same color though) last month and I loved it. Not saying I’m trendy, but I though it was cute, everyone looked great, and I was happy. I see a lot of mismatched dresses colors and styles in wedding blog land (side note… should probably graduate to a different blog type? I mean…aside from APW)

      Don’t worry! I’m pretty sure Meg isn’t trying to make anyone feel bad for ANY of the decisions they’ve made, was just compiling a list of things that 20 years from now will collectively point to an era.

    • MOE

      My bridesmaids wore Peony and Blush from LBD, they all looked awesome. I regret not having selected a third color. I was afraid of too much color. Such a great business!

      • Alexandra

        Oh my gosh. Can I get a picture of that, somehow? I’m going with Poppy, peony, and papaya in all different styles.

        • MOE

          The challenge for me was finding colors that flattered my girls who were all various skin colors.

          I liked Papaya too. I say go for it, and I can vicariously live through you. :)


          • Alexandra

            AWESOME WEDDING!!! You rocked the animal print–I’m so impressed! And I love the different styles and colors of dresses. Yay!–I’m reassured that this is a good choice.

    • meg

      It’s totally still a trend.

      I think now I’d do mixed patterns. Probably. But I’d pick people’s dresses (which you’re already doing) because they sort of hated picking their own.

      Anyway! Exactly to Catherine. The point of this is not to feel bad about your decisions, I’m just talking about my decisions. And who cares if something is a trend or not, if you like it? (Also, hint. 2009 wasn’t THAT long ago. A lot of the trends still live.)

    • While it is “on trend” I think it is also becoming more and more popular because it makes so much sense, particularly the different styles for different body types; I think it will eventually end up as one of the set of “normal” choices.

    • Michelle

      My wedding is in 10 days (EEEEEE). My bridesmaids aren’t matching – just same general color family. YOU AREN’T ALONE.

  • Charis

    I personally kind of feel like brides are often trying to make their days tasteful, rather than timeless, and are pressured to have what looks sophisticated right now by the WIC.
    In my opinion, I think often the pressure is on to have an on-trend wedding, one which looks fresh and modern, but which will of course date.
    I think perhaps people planning their weddings just don’t want them to look dated right this moment, e.g. like an 80s or 90s wedding (unless that’s intentionally what they’re going for!?)

    I do completely agree with the sentiment of this article though, that you should pick what you like and not worry how it dates. I’m bucking the brights and going for ivory flowers and going for not bright nor pastel navy blue bridesmaids dresses. But there probably will be some jam jars and tea lights hanging about though lol.

    And to be honest I think our guests really wouldn’t be able to tell, I’m sure they’ll just think it looks like Charis and Michael’s 2014 wedding :) and that our grand children will feel that way too.

  • Nina B.

    Loved this. I’m happy to report that 3 years later, there are few things I would change about our wedding. But the big one? The dress. I’m with you, Meg, and lot of the ladies in the comments: I would have taken more of a risk there.

    • meg

      Its funny, since I’m totally saying I might do riskier now. But. I should clarify that I LOVED my dress, and think it’s one of the best choices I made. Loved. But I did take a risk there, thank god.

      • Nina B.

        I hadn’t thought that I would make riskier decisions until you mentioned that you would–and mine would have been the dress. I liked my dress a lot. But I didn’t love it. I think the last-minuteness (2 days) of my dress selection had a lot to do with it. (To be fair, I *hope* I would have gotten something riskier had I actually found it in time.)

    • Lauren

      I let myself get talked out of a short dress and I think (so far – less than two weeks later) that is the only thing I would change. It would have been “dated” but then again, so was my actual dress (which I looked like a million bucks in, it just wasn’t *~*~*perfect*~*~*).

  • Catherine

    I love this post. For some reason I really really loved it. It was supposed to be fun but I also felt very hit in the heart because of the “the farther away our wedding is” the prouder I am type thing…Geez I’m emotional today!

    And I really almost want to steal your “re planned wedding” hehe. We’re planning our wedding for next summer, no date set yet, and all the possibilities are so exciting! I’m definitely going to remember this post during the planning! :)

  • Couldn’t agree more! I love seeing photos of my parents’ wedding. They bucked a lot of trends and had a very small church wedding with food in my grandparents’ barn. My mom wore a simple jumper my grandma made her. Parts of it look like it could be a hipster wedding in 2013, but parts of it look very much like they happened in 1983. (Like the groomsmen’s powder blue tuxes!)

    I think our wedding photos will age in a similar way. We kind of did what we wanted, and didn’t follow many particular trends either. But all our photos will still look VERY much of their time when decades pass. And that’s totally okay. The memories can age with us and their meanings can change over time. The photos can show us exactly as we all were.

    Also, I love your url for this and that people are going to stumble onto this post when they google “timeless weddings.” Well played!

  • ElisabethJoanne

    We weren’t going for “timeless.” We were going for “traditional” – based upon family photos, conversations, and old books. Trendy would have been easier, insofar as we could have accepted vendors’ first suggestions, bought a dress at the first salon, rented the cheapest tuxes, etc. So, if you’re not into risks, not into planning, not into decision-making, those are other reasons to embrace trends.

    • meg

      Traditional is a whole other conversation. An interesting one, and one I wrote about in my book. I did a lot of research on it, and tradition and weddings is such a mirage, though there are often traditions that are emotionally important.

      I’m less saying “go trendy,” what I’m saying is, don’t be afraid to take risks. Don’t dial yourself back because you feel like you should. Which is in the end only a point that’s going to speak to those of us for whom “going big or going home” is part of our personality.

  • Meghan

    Hah! Man did I need this right now! I have been arguing with my mom about having black bridesmaid dresses. My main argument was for “timeless”…even though I really just want “easy”. I opened up APW and saw that headline and thought, “Oh boy. Get ready for some tough love!”

    This helped give me the extra kick to go forward with my original autumn palette idea – even if it takes a little extra effort. My wedding is gonna be hella ‘rustic elegance and mason jars circa 2013’ anyway. :)

    • Emilie

      The black bridesmaid dress thing is sooooos stylish. I would TOTALLY do it for my guys and gals if we weren’t doing a July wedding (trying to embrace bright colors of the season).

    • meg

      Funny enough, black bridesmaids dresses are VERY of the moment. Even five years ago they were pretty rebellious, since black has always been forbidden at weddings (unlucky). So they are SO right now. And hot. Also.

  • Addie

    Oh man THIS. I was showing a friend the pictures from my first wedding and they have the early aughts all over them. From my ballgown to the wedding colors (I think every wedding that year was maroon and sage) to pashminas EVERYWHERE!! I remember that we were considered very avant garde because we hired a photojournalist to do our photography and I refused to spend more than 10 minutes on posed pictures. People nearly lost their sh*t at our lifesized R2D2 wedding cake. Cakes like that simply weren’t done in 2003. I wanted the most badass wedding we could afford and we got it.

    My first wedding was exactly perfect for who I was back then. And our 2015(ish) wedding will look exactly perfect for who I am now. It will still be the most badass wedding we can afford.

  • Stalking Sarah

    I’d love to see this become part of an APW manifesto of wedding truths, sort of like the APW Sanity Pledge, but for folks getting married. Something to be the opposite of the WIC — maybe the MHP (marriage happiness plan)?

    -Your wedding is not timeless.
    -The only thing you HAVE to do when you’re getting married is GET MARRIED (as legally as you possibly can). The rings, dress(es), cake, party, dinner, etc is all optional.
    -It is OK to elope on a Wednesday afternoon in shorts. It is OK to spend $50K on a week-long party for 300 people. The key is to do what you want, what you can afford, and what makes you happy.
    -There are two people getting married. There are no “supporting actors” in a couple.
    -People’s behaviors do not magically change when presented with a wedding.


    • meg

      This and the post I wrote on deciding on what level of wedding privacy you want, will totally go in a second edition of the book, if there ever is one.

      • A Single Sarah for certain values of single

        I was thinking I need to buy a new copy of the book. I think the friend I loaned my copy to thought I was giving it to her. And, y’know, if it still supports you and the site, I’m more than happy to do it that way.

  • Carolyn

    Back when I was planning our wedding 4 years ago(!), Ariel wrote something similar (and I think offhandedly even), but it totally and completely reframed the way I approached the wedding. Embracing the time capsule approach was immensely freeing and I’m sure our wedding was better for it.

    “Some people believe that weddings should be timeless examples of elegance, but I wanted my wedding to be a time capsule. I love my parent’s wedding photos, where Dad’s got his full beard and muslin shirt emblazoned with a lion my mom had embroidered on it. Mom’s wearing a daisy wreath and is five months pregnant with me. Hating refined sugar, they served wheels of cheese instead of cake. Mom played her guitar for entertainment. I LOVE that their wedding is so quintessentially 1974.

    Our wedding meanwhile is totally 2004. Five years later, I’ve had all sorts of shifts in design and style … of course! Aesthetics shift with time, and traditional weddings aren’t exempt — strapless gowns aren’t going to be in style forever, ladies. I LIKE that my wedding is a slice of my and Dre’s life from when we got married. I didn’t want a wedding that didn’t have a sense of time or space.”

    • meg

      I was thinking about that post! Thanks for digging it up.

      • Carolyn

        Yeah, ha, to find it I ended up searching with the terms “Ariel, lion, daisies” i.e. what I remembered from the post…

  • Amber

    Is “timeless” a thing now? I never even thought about or considered making sure our wedding looked like it could take place at any point in time. It sounds like just another trend.

    • meg

      No, timeless for sure isn’t a trend. Timeless is one of the major wedding industry marketing slogans, and has been for as long as I can remember. So, 30 years? Forever?

    • Emily

      I would believe if “timeless” is a newer concern, thanks to the 80s.

  • Lizzie

    “Yeah!” to this piece – but especially because that Satomi bar ring is my beautiful, totally non-timeless engagement ring (that we picked out together)!

  • Christy

    Megan, do you mind sharing your wedding/reception venue? I love those hills!

  • This.

    This is why I just had to make you my friend come hell or high water.

  • The most helpful thing to me about this was Meg expressing that she would do her wedding differently if she could do it again, when it seems like she had a great wedding that she loved. I have been struggling so much with my wedding not unfolding the way I would have wished, and costing way more than we planned for, and regretting some of my choices. I am already thinking what I would do differently if I were to do it again and it hasn’t even happened yet! But I still think its going to be a nice wedding. This helps me to realize that wishing I could do it differently doesn’t mean I wont love my wedding. Fact is, if I had made the choices I am thinking I should have made now, I might just be regretting the choices I actually am making. That’s the crazy thing about weddings particularly if you actually enjoy planning and wanted to plan it, its a wonderful event with so many elements, but hopefully, you only get to do it once, which means no do-overs.

  • I do secretly get annoyed when something I love becomes ‘a trend’ because then people will think I’m doing it because of that and not just because I love it :( That also killed bunting for me. Well, someone pointing out that bunting kind of looks like knickers on a line kind of killed bunting for me… I’m consoling myself that the banner shape is still safe enough.

    But something I’ve been agonising over with my wedding photographer hat on is whether to try and avoid wedding photography trends that will add to that time capsule effect.

    I know it’s a personality thing and some people LOVE the wackyness of those shots where the couple are superimposed on a photo of a champagne glass from the 70s/80s – but these days those photography fashions move REALLY fast (you’d be surprised how recently it was really cool to desaturate an image except for the bouquet of red roses), and also, most of them are actually degrading to the image quality, given that we take a nice clean digital image and slap a load of fake film effects all over it, sometimes actually obscuring the details, so it’s not about reflecting the kind of equipment that was actually being used at the time.

    Fashions in posing and composition are another element – tiny people in the corner of the photo, the bridal party walking towards the camera in a row, everyone jumping, vogue style TV show group posing… how do you guys feel about that stuff? Do you embrace it it the same way as the beehive hairdo or the skinny ties? Or should the photography essentially ‘get out of the way’ as much as possible and let the content be the only thing that dates the photos? I’m trying to figure a way to describe that without using the word ‘classic’ or ‘timeless’ because that’s usually interpreted as ‘boring’, and doesn’t mean anything to a client.

    Or does anyone even care? How do you feel about your photography, if you’ve been married a while and you can see a definite fashion in your wedding pictures beyond what you were all wearing?

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  • Sunflower

    Oh man, I so love this and so needed to read this. I had been allowing myself to get caught up in worrying about my wedding getting “dated” or cheesy. I don’t even entirely know why? But it is so silly because when I actually reflect on it, the entire reason I want a professional photographer was because I remember looking at family wedding photos as a kid and loving the slice of history they contained. I want to have that for our kids and grandkids. And, that history involved photos that, yes, were dated, and yes, were cheesy, but that is part of why they were wonderful. So, THANK YOU for this post. It was a reality check that I really needed and that is really quite liberating. I /do/ want my wedding to look like it has a time and a place to it. And there is no way that it won’t, especially because of our personal style and our desire to integrate our love of sci fi, so, why worry?

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