Wedding Graduate: Bride In Exile

I’m thrilled to introduce our newest wedding graduate, Bride In Exile, a long time member of Team Practical. She has such a honest post (who doesn’t have a problem staying sane planning a wedding?) and it’s wise too (we hired people after the first or second interview for sure). And her last piece of advice is among the best you will ever hear. So without further ado, some words from the wise:

I’ll be honest: I feel like a bit of a poser here. Why? Because keeping to the “sane” part of A Practical Wedding’s mantra was a huge challenge for me.

The thing is, I have a massive perfectionist streak. Give me a project, and I have a hard time settling for “good enough” – my inner perfectionist wants, nay demands, “perfect.” There were definitely times during our engagement when, as Meg would say, I lost the plot. So what advice can a terminal perfectionist offer such a savvy, level-headed community? I’m not quite sure. But here are 5 lessons I learned along the way.

1. “Aesthetics are not ethics”

When I was worrying about whether we’d ruined our wedding by not having inner envelopes for our invitations, and judging myself for obsessing over something I knew was so trivial, I often found comfort in wedding blogs. Not the ones with the glossy, magazine-worthy photos, but the ones by smart, sassy women who were also trying to maintain their sanity and plan a wedding.

One of those bloggers, A. at Accordions and Lace, coined the phrase “aesthetics are not ethics,” and I found myself reciting it time and time again. Those four little words helped me remember that omitting the inner envelopes, choosing beef roulade instead of beef filet, and playing “Walk Like an Egyptian” were not crimes against humanity – no, not even if someone at the wedding hates the Bangles. It’s OK. They’ll get over it.

2. Don’t obsess too much over “unique.”

For a self-aware or “indie” bride, nothing is more horrifying than the prospect of having a “cookie-cutter” wedding. We don’t want to follow the prescriptions of the WIC blindly, and most of the time that’s a good thing, because the world probably doesn’t need more bride-and-groom cake toppers or eco-unfriendly plastic wedding favors shaped like swans. But it can be easy to go too far and start fretting over whether you’ve done enough to be “unique.”

On occasion, I struggled with guilt over not making our own centerpieces, or not being “committed” enough to hand-craft 150 personalized wedding favors, or going with boring old cake instead of a more interesting dessert, and I worried that our wedding would be dull and devoid of personality. But you know what? Sometimes it’s OK to go with something “typical” if that’s what you like (e.g. cake.We really love cake). It’s also OK to go with “typical” if you don’t care about your place settings/cake topper/appetizers/flowers and want the decision made NOW so you don’t have to think about it another second. You don’t need to hyper-personalize every aspect of your day in order to have a memorable, beautiful, unique wedding. You and your loved ones are ultimately the ones who make it all of those things, not the stuff you pick.

3. Find ways to have fun with the planning.

I am not a crafter, and neither is Econo Boy, so we promised each other we’d confine all wedding DIY to projects that seemed like fun rather than a chore. One thing we really enjoyed was putting together and printing a “wedding wine list” from wines our friends brought to our engagement party. Months of debating about which reds and whites to pick ensued, and at the reception, we were delighted to see our guests reading all about our choices and who’d contributed them. My matron of honor was so psyched when she saw that we picked the Cabernet she and her husband suggested! Finding a project that we loved helped take the edge off the minor snafus. Whenever we got stressed out, we’d remind each other that at least we’d love the wines.

4. You can hire a vendor even if they’re your first interview.It’s really OK.

There are lots of tips on wedding blogs about budgeting money, but fewer on budgeting hours or your sanity, and for us, the latter two commodities were just as important, if not more so. One of the best strategies we employed bucked conventional wedding wisdom a bit: we limited the number of vendors we interviewed. Most blogs and books will advise you to talk to multiple vendors in every area to make sure you’re getting the “right fit” and the best price, but we found that this was a) a huge time-sink, and b) not really all that necessary. Our approach was, if the person we’d just interviewed was within our budget and we liked and trusted them, they were a go, even if they were the first person we’d talked to. And you know what? All of our first-interview hires did a great job! (Weirdly, the ones we had problems with were the ones we thought we’d chosen the most carefully. Go figure.)

5. Be yourself during the ceremony.

I think the best piece of advice anyone gave us came from our wonderful officiant on the day of the rehearsal: be yourself at the wedding, especially during the ceremony. Laugh if something strikes you as funny. Cry if you need to. It’s easy to get caught up in the idea that everyone is looking at you (especially if you’re like me and that freaks you out), but on this day of all days, be the person your partner fell in love with. “Being ourselves” meant we both cried a bit, I laughed with my mouth wide open, and we almost kissed at the wrong moment during the ceremony because we were so overwhelmed and so happy. (Our officiant just laughed and said “you can kiss if you want to!”) When I walked back down that aisle, holding my husband’s hand, I’d never been more in love with him.

So yeah, be yourself during the ceremony. And then, have some wine, grab some food, and dance like you’ve never danced before! (Also, a search for comfortable shoes is never time wasted.)

Photo: David Wegwart of Photocrafz Inc.

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