Wedding Overexposure

This weekend, I was chatting with a friend who’s a new convert to wedding blogs. After she dismissed APW as “Too wordy.” (Ha! True!) we started discussing another wedding blog that we both adore. And she neatly pin-pointed the single biggest problem with, well, wedding blogs. She said, “I don’t know. After a while everything just starts looking the same, and I’m rebellious so I think, “I’ll do it differently! I won’t even HAVE flowers at my wedding! And then I realize I am going crazy.” And indeed, right? It made me think of Verhext’s post on culling desire, and the ways that images endlessly tumbled mean something, and don’t, and finding the way through this thicket of inspiration to our own hearts. So I was thrilled when this wedding graduate post from Lauren, the wedding planner behind It’s Quintessential, popped into my mailbox this week. It helps us think through when inspiration helps, and when it doesn’t, and when you just need to gut check already (hint: probably now).

Yesterday I came across this article on Overexposure at Little Green Notebook and it struck me as a topic that really reaches into all sorts of design including weddings and events. Are we overexposed? The social web is an amazing place full of endless possibilities and it truly brings the most up to date trends, ideas and inspiration right to your fingertips and eyeballs. The possibilities are endless when you’re researching your wedding theme, colors, flowers, dress, cake, ceremony reading…the list goes on and on.

Are the possibilities too endless? Do you ever find yourself scrolling through pages of google search results for wedding ideas and you see so many amazing things that it is flat out overwhelming? You like the look of a loose bouquet of wildflowers but you also love the structure of a graphic bouquet of all red roses and then you see purple and your brain says “well I love purple too.” Do you shut off, are you overwhelmed? No, you’re over-exposed.

After working in the wedding industry for years I knew exactly what I wanted my wedding to be and look like. I wanted simple, classic, elegant and most of all, I wanted it to be relaxed. I did not want a lot of color, I wanted neutrals, an outdoor setting, simple bouquets and centerpieces that reflected who I am, just a simple, quiet girl with a classic sense of style. That’s how I think of myself any how.

Once I started receiving questions from my guests on what I was planning, it became clear that they were expecting my wedding to be extravagant, over the top and completely up to date on the biggest trends. They were taking my profession and translating what I do for others into who I am. Truth be told, I was intimidated. I knew they expected amazing things, after all I work on amazing events, I create amazing things for other people and I love every minute of it. I let myself worry about what they would think when my little wedding didn’t hold up to their expectations, I worried quite a bit and then I just got to a point where I told myself “it’s my wedding, I’ll do what I want to.” And I did.

I used white roses and ferns and lots of greenery – not trendy and definitely done before. Heck I even let my bridesmaids design my centerpieces without much direction because it was fun and they loved it- frankly I didn’t care if they were perfect. I didn’t want to spend money and time on creating my best work for my wedding. I wanted it to be comfortable not only for my guests but for me.

It was beautiful, and while I’ll never know how people felt upon their first impression, I know that I heard amazing things. Most importantly, there isn’t a thing I would change. I loved it, all of it. Even looking at pictures when I see the centerpiece that didn’t have the right balance and it looked wonky, I know my friends did it and they had fun.

{Wonky Flower Balance – no this doesn’t pass at anyone else’s wedding, just mine. :)}

I let it be all through the reception and yes, a little part of my brain said, “walk over and move that rose a tid bit so it looks like someone with a little knowledge designed that piece,” but I didn’t, I let it shine with all of its imperfections. I truly believe that all of the compliments I received were because I stayed true to who I was. I did not let the most up to date ideas and the pressures and expectations shape my vision, I shaped it from the inside.

The Solution To Over Exposure: Gut Check

So, as you look through all of the crazy ideas out there, do they speak to you, do they reflect who you are, do they help identify you? If they do then that’s your vision, that is where you need to let yourself go, relax and know that this idea is perfect, this is truly me and I don’t care if I’ve seen this on 400 blogs, I love it and I’m going to do it.

Don’ t buy into anything you don’t love. You’ll waste time, effort and lots of money. If you are unsure take it as a sign, it isn’t meant to be. Don’t let other people’s opinions, especially your bridesmaids, mother and family, sway your theme. It isn’t their wedding, it’s yours. On that note, don’t be a bridezilla either, no one wants to deal with that.

If you feel like things you love have been done too much and you are just copying someone else’s ideas, remind yourself that the majority of your guests don’t read wedding blogs and don’t buy bridal magazines. They may not have ever seen – ball jars, tea cups, balloons and tissue paper poms. You see them everywhere you look because other brides like them, you’re allowed to as well. Just because it seems like someone else’s idea does not mean you can’t adapt it for yourself. Go with who you are and do it unabashedly, don’t apologize, don’t agonize, live into it. Stay strong. I guarantee you’ll look back and be thrilled you did.

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  • Carbon Girl

    I am impressed with your perspective. Many of the weddings featured on blogs, especially the most over the top ones, seem to have someone of the couple in the wedding industry. I feel like they are trying to make their wedding into an advertisement. I am glad you were able to stay true to yourself because I feel like that must be doubly hard if wedding are your job.

  • As a newly married person, my take on this is that I would plan a slightly different wedding at every stage in my life. Last year I was into neutrals and a little obsessed with that vintage looking, Tiffany or Martha Stuart blue (I know, but you’ve got to hand it to the woman– her signature color is gorgeous). Before that my colors were grey and yellow. Or grey and orange. And the venue? We could’ve had our reception on a farm or in a cozy restaurant. We decided on a warehouse style art gallery.

    My point is that your tastes change, and if you get pressured into thinking that your wedding has to be some giant summation of WHO YOU ARE, you might make yourself crazy. You are not flowers or a dress or a rustic barn with glowing lanterns. You are a person with lots of things going on in your life (school, job, family, etc), and you don’t need to look at every picture on the internet searching for the perfect thing or comparing what you find to what you’ve already chosen. Trust me, I did this and only made myself and those around me completely neurotic.

    Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. This doesn’t mean settling for things you don’t like. What it does mean is that sometimes you have to quit searching and realize that whatever you picked is good enough and that good enough is beautiful (in no small part because it represents a giant check mark on your to-do list). It’s okay if you come across something later that is also beautiful. Look at it, exclaim at how pretty/cute/clever it is, and move on.

    • Katie T

      This is so true. I have had multiple crises in my wedding planning process and still have felt very unsure of our final decisions because it’s not the vision I had for my wedding a couple of years ago. With the wedding a couple months away now I’ve pretty much made peace with our plan. I don’t think it represents “who I am” but what would? That’s too hard for me to represent with flowers, etc. I’m done planning and organizing and what we have is lovely and definitely “good enough.” Plus, who doesn’t love making check marks on that to-do list?

    • Yes! I call this “Tattoo Theory”. It’s the idea that your wedding will be a permanent mark on you, so it has to be this timeless thing or you’ll regret it later. And that puts so much pressure on brides and grooms because essentially you’re being asked to predict the future. Which is why I think this whole post is such great advice. Be true to who you are *now* and you’ll never regret a single thing.

      Also, for the record, this is why dated wedding pictures are my favorite. They speak to who you were in the exact moment you decided to commit yourselves to each other. Why would I want to pretend that history doesn’t exist?

      • Zan

        Tattoo theory! Brilliant!!

      • meg

        Tatto Theory. You’re a genius. That needs to be a post, somehow.

        • Sometimes, the 2 collide – like when you have to make yourself a long sleeve, high backed wedding dress to cover the tattoos you regret. Not the dress I would have chosen, for sure. :/

      • Dated wedding pictures are my favorite too.

    • YES: “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”

      Yes, yes, YES. I have a friend of the family who owns her own business and is HUGELY successful, professionally and personally. One of her favorite things to say is that the effort between ‘okay’ and ‘amazing’ is worth every drop of sweat, but the effort needed between ‘amazing’ and ‘perfect’ is never worth it. I heard that from her constantly when I was in college, and it was a great reminder. Yeah, I could have gotten all A’s, but I wouldn’t have had any friends, any extracurriculars, any sleep, or any life. And would that be worth the extra effort? No. Same thing with planning a wedding.

      Also, I love the idea that a wedding is a reflection of where we are in a given moment– aren’t the best wedding photos the ones that are SO dated and adorable? My mom wore a hat and her big tortoise-shell glasses for her 1969 wedding. Meanwhile, for my uncle’s wedding in 1981, her curly hair was nearly a full on ‘fro. I love those pictures, because it tells me about who she was then.

      • Hi Sarah, that is such a smart way to make the distinction between what is possible to achieve and what isn’t, it’s a good mantra for brides to keep them from getting stressed out, I think

        • Absolutely. We create this monstrous perfect ideal in our heads, and if we can’t achieve it, we go nuts. It’s unattainable and unhealthy. If we let ourselves be satisfied, it’s so much better for us. Meg talked about this, I think, when she discussed how they picked vendors– they made a list of things they wanted, and were satisfied when they found someone who matched that list and their budget. No need to search through EVERY FLORIST EVER– just pick the one that works, and be satisfied.

      • Class of 1980


        I dearly love your post. Every single word of it.

    • meg

      Or as we say at APW: The Best Is The Enemy Of The Good (How did I not think to link to that post? Rachel, you’re on the ball.)

      And indeed. My tastes change, my dream wedding changed over time. Your wedding is just a party that you threw at a moment in time, not who you are.

    • Kirsten

      I’m in the beginning stages of wedding planning, and this “summation of who you are” was the central stress theme of putting together our guest list. Both my fiance and I have big families, and big friend groups (he does in particular), and we are used to throwing inclusive parties where we just invite everyone and tell them to bring a friend. We knew the guest list would be a big challenge. In whittling it down to an affordable and sanity-preserving size, we had to cut tons of important people. It was an excruciating process of putting each relationship under a microscope and evaluating how important they are to us/me, how important we are to them, is our relationship living in the past, is this person really an acquaintance that we would like to be friends with in the future…etc. Ugh.

      It was hugely liberating to finally realize that my wedding is not the be all end all of my relationships. I can still be friends with people who aren’t invited, and develop that friendship over time. If I were planning this wedding five years ago, the guest list would be noticeably different. Once I let go of trying to fit all the people who have helped define me over time (my high school self, college self, early career self etc.) into one über list, and just focused on who is or feels like family to me now, it was much easier to make decisions.

  • There was a good post related to this on Offbeat Bride a while ago that talked about ‘when things slip over from inspiration to fixation’.

    I think one important thing is to stop looking once you HAVE found something. If you’ve got a dress, stop looking at all the ones you ‘could’ have had.

  • Katie

    For the record, I love the wordiness of APW. The masses of pictures were helpful at the start of planning, but now, I welcome the thoughts, recollections, and advice from brides “in the trenches” or out on the other side. Besides, pictures don’t make a blog post – the writing keeps people coming back when they want to hear what you have to say.

    • Early on in my foray into wedding blog land, all I looked at were pictures. Pictures, pictures, pictures. I consumed so much wedding porn (as they say over on Offbeat Bride). But after awhile, I realized I needed more substance than just pictures. I wanted to think about the whys and hows behind things, and that led me to APW and then on to a number of other female bloggers who were discussing their wedding planning. I’ve never gotten hooked on bloggers who focus solely on the details, but rather I like to read their reflections on both the journey to get married and a little aesthetic fun.

    • Aine

      I too love the wordiness of APW. We can get pictures anywhere in the interwebs, but this is the only place where I come to read every day because I know someone will say something that makes me think, hard. And I love that about APW. I’m gonna be one of the many ladies who keeps on reading after I marry too.

      I am a words person though- I drowned myself in pictures of wedding gowns and then flowers, but I cannot make myself trawl through all the other design-y elements on the internet. (Hell, even as far as flowers go, I just look cause they’re pretty. I am not doing a “flower proposal” or whatever nonsense the Kn*t calls it, because I am a girl who doesn’t care about flowers. I care about not having to do too much decorating).

  • Hypothetical Sarah

    The rebellious “I’ll do it differently! I won’t even HAVE flowers at my wedding!” response? I’m totally there. For me, supersaturation on wedding images has caused a strong “I don’t live in a magazine, damnit!” backlash. Rather than a “vintage” or “rustic” or “modern garden party on the moon” theme, I’ve decided to aim for just “authentic”. Now to figure out what that means…

    • Zan

      Oh man Sarah, I’m totally with you. We’re not doing a blog worthy wedding-wedding (do you like how I just invented my own term there? grad school — it teaches you such useful skills) because I just can’t get all that excited about colors and favors and whatnots. I felt awful, like I was a bad bride and like this somehow boded poorly for my marriage — until I snapped myself out of it with a gut check a la this article from Lauren.

      I just tell people that our wedding is going to be, “A brief ceremony and then we’re having some good food. It’ll be nice.” In the meantime I tell myself that for us, that is all it has to be. It doesn’t mean I don’t fret now and then but I’m trying to keep an even keel by reminding myself of that Dr. Seuss quote that Sarah noted in her wedding grad post ( “Those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

      Collective breath everyone! :)

      • Zan, I’m stealing this line: ““A brief ceremony and then we’re having some good food. It’ll be nice.”

        Yes! We’ll get married, then we’ll eat, and then we’ll all go our own ways. Favors? Eh. Cake-cutting hoopla? Eh. First dance? Eh. We’ll get married, then we’ll eat, and then we’ll all go our own ways.

        Now that I’m typing this, I realize that the day should be special cause you’re getting married, not because you have the most radial vodka ice luge and lighting anyone has ever seen. I mean, I know this. But what the hell do favors have to do with two people agreeing to spend the rest of their lives together? Okay, rant curtailed!

        • Zan

          You don’t have to steal, I’ll give it to you! :)

          By the way, never in a million years would I have even considered having a vodka ice luge, but I will admit that they sound sort of amazing and fun. Like those marble tower things I was so fond of in preschool. Maybe we’ll just have a few of those knocking around instead. Ha!

          • Morgan

            I went to a work Christmas party that had one, and I’m not going to lie, it was pretty cool. I kind of wanted to build one at home. Right now it’s cold enough outside the vodka would probably free solid before it finished luge-ing.

      • Hypothetical Sarah

        Zan, we need to be friends. Like now.

        Since I’m (already married shhh), I’ve found that, as time passes, my wedding is increasingly divorced from my marriage. The marriage, I’m living now. The wedding is a project to work on together, a way to introduce our baby family to our community, an excuse to celebrate with everyone, a way to reclaim traditions we lost when eloping.

        At least that’s how I feel today…

        • Zan

          Internet friends for the win!! Now if only you lived nearby. SOMEONE has to help me eat all these cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting ….

          That goes for pretty much all of you, not just Hypothetical Sarah (though she is fab). Not having any close friends nearby to share the wedding-ness with — or the very occasional squee-moments — can be tough and sad. APW makes it better.

        • meg

          Ohhh! Write a grad post about that. I’m not sure I feel totally the same way, since the wedding was the moment things changed for us in a spiritual/ religious/ jewish legal way, but I do feel divorced from the planning. And I’m FASCINATED by your point of view.

          • Hypothetical Sarah

            I’d love to! But you might have to wait the 12+ months until I really graduate from (already married shhh) to MARRIED!

          • meg

            Hum. I wonder if things will stay the same after the other wedding. It might not… just sayn’ ;)

          • Zan

            D’oh — can our wedding grad post be about this too? We had to get married last week but the wedding is in June — something Hypothetical Sarah and I get to bond over. Maybe we can write a joint wedding grad post…hmmm

    • There have been times when I get so sick of a certain theme I practically want to ban it from my wedding and do the opposite just to spite everyone else. To prove that my wedding won’t look the same.

      That’s when I know I need to take a break from the wealth of images over on pretty wedding blogs.

    • Cass

      Whenever I have that reaction (or the opposite: But Everyone Else Will Have It), I think about my parent’s wedding. They had a church ceremony with punch and cake in the church basement. Their day took a mere 4 hours.
      My event will be slightly larger with a full meal and lots of fresh flowers. But thinking about my parents’ humble wedding keeps me humble, too. I don’t need a lot for it to be lovely.
      The weddings in magazines look like too much. It’s beautiful and looks like a lot of fun, but cake and punch in the church basement can be beautiful and fun, too.

      • Yes! “I don’t need a lot for it to be lovely.” Cause WE and our soon-to-be-hubby and amazing friends and family are the lovely, no?

        Gosh, I’m so fired up this morning, sorry! :)

    • Similarly, oversaturation caused me to intensely scale back the detail-cluttered celebration I once saw in my head. I went to a “blog-chic” wedding in December, and you know what? It looked amazing, but wasn’t very fun or lively. Even if you buy the kid an elaborate dollhouse, she’ll still end up making a spaceship out of a refrigerator box.

      I do like details and themes and ambience, but I hope to plan many more (less fraught, less emotional) parties in my life. THEN there can be mini-chalkboards and typewriter guestbooks.

      Right on, ladies.

      • Zan

        I just had to pop this out to say: “Even if you buy the kid an elaborate dollhouse, she’ll still end up making a spaceship out of a refrigerator box.”

        Heck yes! Evie, I think this is what I will tell people from here on out — “We arehaving a refrigerator-box-spaceship sort of wedding, y’know?”

      • meg

        I think “doing all the trends” is a little bit of a mistake, and leaves guests a little overwhelmed. As with all of life, pick 1-3 things and do them well, and let go of the rest. You want a photobooth? Maybe rock out: a photobooth, good food, and dancing. Nothing else is needed, for reals.

        • Class of 1980

          AGREE. It would overwhelm the guests. I love design and details, BUT if you go too far then no one can properly appreciate them because there’s too much to take in.

          Personally, I don’t like lots of nit-picky stuff everywhere I turn. I prefer fewer items, but well-executed.

          People want to relax and be comfortable and laugh most of all. If you forget that, then you’ve ruined the whole thing.

  • I’m a design blogger and my google reader grew a new section a few months ago when I got engaged. I’ve been flipping through about 60 wedding blog posts per day and am starting to see the same patterns in this segment of the blog world that I see in the design blog world (the blog that posts 5-6 times per day, the blog that’s very personal, the blog that has a little snark, the blog that gushes over everything, the blog that celebrates conspicuous consumption in a way that makes me uncomfortable).

    Just the other day, I decided to scrap my color scheme because I decided it was becoming too mainstream (let’s be frank: if the girls on The Knot message board are doing it, it’s mainstream). I remind myself that most people don’t see these blogs and don’t even know they exist. There are things that we might see as outdated that are going to be fresh and different to our guests.

    • meg

      Yes. Your guests don’t read wedding blogs, I swear to you.

    • carrie

      I’ve found that it’s been helpful to scale back on the wedding blogs b/c they are so repetitive and ZOMG how many weddings can you look at? Don’t answer that.

      • hoppy bunny

        For sure. Wedding porn just stresses me out anymore. I prefer to think of what I’m trying to achieve and then just do a google image search. That way I get ideas without being swayed by pretty fonts and formatting. Either I like it or I don’t.

  • Marley

    I now declare this to be my gut check day!
    I didn’t even know I needed it, but after reading this my gut is screaming “YES! CHECK ME!”

  • Jo

    YES! This is why I only read APW and usually skip over things that will make me want more things. I freely admit it’s because my style is in its baby stages and any outside influence could sway it. I am guarding our baby style in my daily browsings just as fiercely as I guard my baby family.

  • “If you feel like things you love have been done too much and you are just copying someone else’s ideas, remind yourself that the majority of your guests don’t read wedding blogs and don’t buy bridal magazines.”

    I’m totally guilty of thinking I shouldn’t do something just because everyone else is doing it – with mixed results. I was adamantly opposed to wearing a strapless dress, which was partly for modesty, but really, I could have put on a shawl/shrug/jacket/anything to keep my shoulders covered. It was also in large part because everyone and her Aunt Joan wears a strapless wedding dress nowadays. And then I found a strapless dress that I liked, and told myself that it was just as silly NOT to do something because everyone else was doing it as TO do something because everyone else was doing it, and I bought it . . . and I didn’t love it, and I ended up buying another dress, with beautiful short sleeves that is so perfectly what I had always really wanted, and I love it. (I would offer the first dress as a giveaway, but my parents paid for it and want me to sell it to recoup their expenses. But if anyone’s looking for a pretty strapless dress, $250 (from the Running of the Brides), let me know!)

    On the other hand, I really wanted to register for china, but couldn’t find any that I liked. I mean, really, what happened to classic-looking china with pretty pink flowers? Must everything be white, or white on white, or silver on white, or navy on white? (or Asian-inspired?) The only thing I liked was Old Country Roses, but I didn’t register for it because it was too common, almost cliched, and everyone and her Aunt Joan has Old Country Roses. (But really? If it’s “the most popular dinnerware pattern in the world,” why do none of the other china designers take a hint and design something ELSE with pink flowers?!) But my grandma wanted to buy me china, and – knowing nothing of how much I’d thought about this – saw Old Country Roses on sale at Macy’s and bought me several place settings, so I ended up registering for it anyway to get a complete set, and I am absolutely thrilled, and cannot WAIT to get my china. It’s so pretty! I love it! Thanks for forcing my hand, Grandma!

    Okay, I wrote a novel, when I guess I was trying to say – it’s HARD to figure out whether you want to do something because you want to, or because everyone else is doing it, and it’s HARD to figure out whether you don’t want to do something because you really don’t want to, or just because everyone else is doing it.

    • Zan

      Ha! Kathleen I love your description of your strapless dress dilemma! I have told everyone I am going to wear blue (or at least something “non-wedding-y” and definitely NOT strapless). Then lo, I walk into J.Crew bridal, see a pretty, WHITE, strapless thing for like $400 bucks and start having a mini-identity crisis. Hehe.

      I’m totally with you lady, this post made me chuckle :)

    • Sarabeth

      That’s my mother’s china pattern, and it is gorgeous. And despite the fact that it is indeed very popular, it will always remind me of her, and my childhood holidays. I’m sure yours will make the same memories for you and your family, and then it will matter not at all that other people also have it.

    • Englyn

      Oh boy, that is me.
      I refused to have a strapless dress. But I simply can’t find a style with straps that looks as good on me as my strapless one.
      I refused to spend a fortune on flowers. Especially as “everyone else” does. But I’m not all that crafty, not into all the vintage style blog centrepieces, just want something pretty, it doesn’t have to scream ‘us’ all over it, and I like flowers. I’m heading rapidly towards something quite traditional re. flowers and I’m being dragged by my mum that way (tokenly, rebelliously) kicking and screaming … but I’m not objecting that hard because I honestly don’t have a better idea.
      It goes on and on, with invitations, jewellery, cake…. everybody’s whateverthing looks more or less the same because…. it’s beautiful/pretty/convenient/useful/goes with everything. And I am starting to feel like a stubborn toddler crying in the corner going “but I don’t *want* to look like everyone else WAAAAAHH!!”

      • Englyn

        PS but we’re getting DAMN GOOD FOOD. Love our venue.

      • Just an idea, for flowers:

        For centerpieces, our flowers are just going to be potted plants. I noticed some really pretty, brightly colored flowers in the yard last year that were in bloom around the time the wedding would be (April), and we asked our local farm (where my mom had bought them in the first place) to plant an extra 20 pots for us this coming year. They’re not going to cost us any more than they would have if we were just buying flowers for the front porch – which isn’t super cheap, but is cheaper than cut flowers through a florist should be, and is super easy, AND after the wedding we/anyone who takes home a centerpiece will have a plant that will last all season, not something that will be thrown away in 10 days. If you go to a nursery/farm/wherever you usually buy plants and buy something that’s already planted, in bulk, you might be able to negotiate a discount, too.

        I recommend potted plants to everyone. Why have dying flowers on your tables when you could have LIVING flowers?

  • I love the wordiness of APW. But then, I love reading too. Looking at wedding blogs is fun, because come on, who doesn’t like looking at all the pretty? But I think it can be a huge waste of time, on top of all the overexposure stress. It can become a lot like facebook where I hop from one page to another to another, and without realizing it, I’ve spent two hours looking at other people’s wedding photos when I’m not even engaged yet.

    • meg

      I just read a handful of the wedding blogs I really love (shhhh!) But then again, now it’s pure fun for me. I already had flowers at my wedding, done.

  • Kaitlin

    For as much as I love some wedding blogs (especially the wordy ones!), planning my own wedding would have been a lot easier had I never ventured into the blogosphere. I wasn’t one who dreamed of her wedding day before getting engaged. I had perused only a couple of wedding magazines in my life (and mostly because I worked at a salon and had read every other magazine five times during my lunch break). When we got engaged, I felt like I had a clear vision: it was a casual affair, I was in a short and sassy dress, the flowers were from the farmer’s market, the decorations were white twinkle lights. Done and done.

    Then I started to look at the wedding blogs and OBSESS about how our wedding was going to *look*. It seems so ridiculous now to think about how concerned I was when I really only should have been concerned about how our wedding was going to *feel*. I reigned in the crazy at the last minute and the wedding looked AND felt fantastic, but whoa nelly, overexposure indeed!

    • Jessica

      Me, too! I’m still in the midst of planning, but I’ve read way too many wedding blogs with shiny shiny pictures and dreamed up a ridiculous affair in my head – an outside, classy, artsy wedding on a very low budget. Then when we make decisions I know that it’s the right decision for us, but I find myself secretly sad about the other options I’ve eliminated. I find myself obsessing about details I never even thought about at other people’s weddings and before we got engaged. This is it. I’m going to gut check and take a break from making myself crazy.

      • Yes, I think Barry Schwartz expresses this concept well. There is a video on (“The Paradox of Choice”) where he explains his theory that the more choices we have, the less satisfied we are likely to be with what we have chosen. I think this is extremely relevant in the wedding planning stage, and causes a lot of stress and self-doubt both during the planning, and after choices have been already made. His video certainly made me think about how choice is connected to happiness.

    • meg

      Yes. You will only remember how your wedding feels. I swear to you.

  • Just wanted to say that the “too wordy” part is exactly why I especially love APW. Sure wedding po*n is nice, but for me, it’s always been about the thought and discussion. There are tons of beautiful not too wordy wedding sites, but not so much wordy ones for my liking.

  • Yes, yes, yes yes YES. I experienced this so hard when I was midway through wedding planning, and it was ROUGH. I wrote a post about it that never really hit the nail properly on the head (I was probably too emotional at the time). But this is it– overwhelmed. I didn’t hate blogs (hell, I’m still following and posting on wedding blogs and I’ve been married almost six months!), but I needed to step away. It was the point when we’d started seriously planning things, and things were starting to take shape, so the onslaught of photos was distracting, not helpful. At the start blogs can help build ideas and suggestions that can lead you to a wedding that you love. I got frustrated because I’d started some concrete plans, and the blog-buzz was just a distraction from the decisions we’d started to make. And I was way, WAY too anxious and self-conscious about my wedding to handle any further self-doubt.

    I came back to blogland when I was ready. When our wedding began to take cohesive shape and I could see in my minds’ eye how things would go, then I was ready to hear about other ideas and plans. I oohed over photos and flowers and dresses (oh, the DRESSES) and got more excited for my own wedding. When I cleared away the cobwebs and knew that I was doing what I loved, that meant I could still look at blogs and be happy for the fun and gorgeous ideas (bunting! hay bales!) even if they weren’t what I was doing.

    I gotta say, my favorite part of APW is that it is wordy! I love other blogs that are primarily photos, but sometimes you want more than that. APW does have posts filled with gorgeous photos and exciting vendors and neat ideas, but it has posts filled with wise thoughts and a great community, and that’s why I come back here time and time and time again.

  • I like the honesty of this post. Overexposure can be an issue for sure.

    I think it’s good to cut ties with the design blogs at a pre-determined time before the wedding. I even cut ties with APW about a month before the wedding (is it okay to confess that???). It’s just….it got harder to separate other people’s designs and choices and stories with the ever-growing reality of our own event (and all the emotions that go with it). Now I’m back.

    Reflecting on the wedding planning process, I ran things the same way I shop for clothes. I walk around a store (esp one like TJMaxx) picking up everything that seems like a good option. Then at checkout I do a “gut check” elimination round and cut it down to just a few that I really want.

    If you interviewed me five months before the wedding I had a WHOLE LIST of things I wanted us to have….decorations, a photo booth, certain favors, on and on. Part of me really wanted to do them all. But there’s a point at which you have to do an elimination round, for sanity and budget sake. And what you’re left with is all your favorites. For some reason I think it’s easier to eliminate them at a later point, after you’ve figuratively “carried them around a while”

    • Rachel

      There’s a post either on ReNest or Zen Habits that your post reminds me of. It’s about stuff & consumption. The mantra is to add things to your life as long as they improve it and stop adding once they no longer do. This works for your wedding, too. Will good food make it more fun? For us, it did. Same with the photo booth– we & our guests had a BLAST being silly. Did being announced make it fun? Not for us, so we scrapped it. It’s not just about fun. Sanity is also key. Will you sleep better if you pay a tailor instead of hemming your own dress? I did. Worth every penny.

      So seek things that will make your wedding better/easier or whatever else you value, & stop seeking when things start making it worse or stay the same.

      Meg is right- you’ll remember how you felt that day.

  • This is totally where I’m at with wedding planning right now. I just unsubscribed from a ton of wedding blogs (the pretty-pictures kind) not just because I felt like I was seeing tons of the same stuff (like fake moustaches and the seeming inevitable photos of brides and grooms “cradling” things in their photos?!) over and over and over again, but because I was close to getting burned out on stuff that I ACTUALLY LIKED and had ALREADY ELECTED to have as part of our day. Like, for a while I was thinking we would decorate with some really cute, sweet, simple fabric bunting flags, but I honestly think I might have seen so many weddings decorated with really cute, sweet, simple fabric bunting flags that the attraction has completely worn off. That’s OK, because I wasn’t super-dedicated to bunting flags to begin with, but I’m kind of attached to a few other elements and would really prefer not to have the aesthetics of my own wedding rendered unspecial before it even has a chance to happen, you know? Because I’m pretty sure, much like the “put a hundred monkeys in a room with typewriters and eventually they will produce Hamlet,” if you spend enough time on enough wedding blogs, eventually you will feel like you’ve seen every possible wedding in the world, including your own, and what a bummer that would be.

    Also, Internet, can we talk about how when you say “inspiration” (which implies some sort of creative spark, empowerment, etc) mostly you just mean “aspiration,” its green-with-envy, frustrated, jealous, crazymaking second cousin?

    • What’s interesting is that in marketing you’ll hear “aspirational” daily in regards to a pitch or a campaign or a concept but very rarely “inspirational.” Marketers want you to buy, not do.

      • Totally. And I think a lot of really smart women realize this about advertising/marketing– they know they’re not being sold on a product, but rather on the idea of who they’d be/be like if they bought that product– but many of the same women DON’T recognize that they’re falling into a similar trap when they plow through RSS feeds and Tumblr dashboards full of curated, styled, aggregated “inspiration” images. The intent isn’t the same– most bloggers (wedding, design, style, otherwise) aren’t hawking a product, just sharing what they like– but it has the same effect of making you feel ugh about your own life and choices, distracting you from the goodness of what you do have, what you actually want. And that’s a bummer.

        • meg

          That depends. We need to be honest with ourselves that blogging is an industry now (says the woman paying the bills with it). That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s something to be conscious of.

          No matter how we approach it, and I approach it differently than a lot of bloggers, for wedding and design bloggers some level of consumption is key to the blog’s survival. If no one spent any money on their wedding, I couldn’t keep food on our table, for example. So that’s worth thinking through when you’re looking at all those images. What’s the motivation? Some level of commerce dosen’t make images bad or unhelpful, but not being AWARE of the commerce involved can confuse the heck out of you.

  • ashley

    Yes, you will obsess over wedding blogs, and no, there is nothing I or anyone else can say to change that. The best thing you can do it to consume them for hours, days, and maybe even months until one day you scream, turn off your computer, and go have a wedding that is about marriage and family. It’s such a relief when that happens, trust me.

  • LPC

    “Shaped it from the inside.” Exactly. Gather outside, shape inside.

  • One thing that tends to bug me about the photo-laden blogs is how much similarity seems to be proliferated by them. I understand certain blogs tend to favor certain styles, and that they are receiving tons of entries per day by couples who hope their wedding will be featured. But the sheer number of posts of “real” weddings cause all these weddings to run together. They don’t seem special and unique when each day there is another two or three new weddings to look at.

    I believe each wedding is unique and special, but these photo-laden blogs don’t tend to recognize that. Instead, it seems that they only pick up the similar details, and as a result, I feel like I’ve been whomped over the head by a certain trend or aesthetic.

    • Nicole

      Exactly. Would love to see more photos of unbridled joy and happy tears, fewer photos of shoes and succulents and GD chalkboards.

  • Nicole

    I have a different take on the wedding blogs, and I think it’s 100% tied to my own feelings of financial insecurity: I see things on blogs, particularly the fancier ones (I’m looking at you, Style Me Pretty), and I automatically think “I can’t have that.” Because we’re paying for this shindig ourselves, and already feel overwhelmed by just the basics, I automatically dismiss any of the adorable, pretty extras as just that: extras that we don’t deserve. And I assume that on most of these blogs, even the rustic-looking weddings cost $$$ that we don’t have.

    I swear I’ve re-read the “Your wedding is not an imposition” post a hundred times, but I still am wary of asking too much of our friends and family to launch any major DIT projects besides the one we’ve already planned: our immediate families and wedding party putting flowers in the jars and bottles we’ve been collecting for the past year on the morning of the wedding.

    What’s saddest is when my fiance gets a peek at a blog or a photo and says “It would be great to have that!” and I announce that it is too expensive/too much work. I’m hoping that as the wedding gets closer I am somehow able to open my mind to the possibilities of using some inspiration from blogs (or wherever) to really personalize and “fun up” the wedding, but for right now the wordy blogs are my salvation.

    • I’ve had the “oh man, that DIY thing looks great but would probably be too expensive, argh!” reaction a lot, too. But on the stuff I really cared about (for instance, making our programs into fans because we’re getting married in August in TN and it will be swelllllltering), I sat down and priced out how much the project would cost and how long it would take and realized, hey, this is totally doable (for me). Budgets are super super personal, of course, but sussing out the real cost of projects has really helped me feel better about taking some of them on. So that might help you, maybe.

      THAT SAID, I felt a HUGE amount of relief when I realized that so many (ie, MOST) of the super-cute, super-styled, DIY-ish weddings I was seeing online looked so fantastically perfect in part because they were pulled together by a stylist, by a coordinator, by a hired professional PAID to make the wedding LOOK super-cute, super-styled, DIY-ish. Which is not a BAD thing at all. But when you’re just scrolling through endless wedding blogs and only looking at photos, it’s easy to ignore the “vendor credits” at the bottom of the posts. Huge reality check for me when I started actually, y’know, reading them. Kinda like a glimpse into the sausage factory.

  • Other Katelyn

    I went through this when planning my new apartment design. I had a limited budget, but still a budget, for a few pieces of new furniture and some art– and I spent hours every day fawning over this shower curtain or that sofa on some 60 sites I had bookmarked. You know what? I ended up with some (classic, but still) Ikea cupboards, my parents’ old futon as a couch, and a hand-me-down dining table. My grandfather’s painting and Turkish rug. A few Etsy prints. And my new apartment feels like home to me! My friends love coming here for hours and hours to talk and play games and drink tea or beer. I did good, gray/orange mid-century modern color scheme be damned.

    I’ve stopped reading all but the most truly thoughtful and wordy design blogs that inspire me on a personal level. I have the rest of my life to pick up cool stuff for my home, the rest of my life to decide whether refinishing that damn table is worth it, because design isn’t a once-and-done thing, just like marriage isn’t a once-and-done thing.

  • I think it was here that I read a post while I was planning our wedding that said, “If you try to become someone you’re not while you’re planning your wedding, you will become a monster.” Paraphrased of course. Before I read that sentence I was a wedding porn consumer to the max, constantly trying to think up all the cool things I could squeeze into my wedding day. And ruining my sanity at the same time. After I read that sentence, I calmed down, pared down my wedding blog reading to only APW, and instantly stopped being a monster. I was definitely trying to be someone I’m not (I didn’t even want a wedding in the first place!) So I think this post is awesome and gives great advice. Gut check is really #1.

  • Can I also put it out there that it is completely ok if there are wedding details that you just DON’T GIVE A SHIT ABOUT? Because I think that’s also a casualty of overexposure. Somewhere along the line we start caring about perfect centerpieces and perfect shoes and perfect table settings when in reality, those things would never be on your list of priorities in the real world. (I don’t even own a dining table. How the hell am I supposed to create a “tablescape”?)

    We felt that hugely during our wedding planning. My husband and I are just *not* matching people. I like the rainbow and loud patterns. He’s functionally color blind. But for some reason I got it in my head that everything had to be perfectly coordinated and it drove me crazy. And then I realized that I was driving myself to distraction over something that had nothing to do with our personalities or our priorities and that furthermore, we just didn’t give a shit about. So we stopped caring about those things. And it was such a great decision.

    P.S. You know that feeling when you wake up after a serious booze fight (you know, the kind where you decide that your significant other’s *face* sucks?). That’s kind of what post-wedding hangover feels like. You’ll look back and think to yourself, “Jesus, I can’t believe I got so hung up on spray-painting my table runners turquoise.”* And it’s inevitable that you’ll have a few of these moments. BUT, and this is a big but, it’s huge that we’re having this conversation now. It will put so much of the planning anxieties into perspective later and allow you to look back without feeling too bad about it.

    *True story.

    • OMG, on that note can we talk about chairs? Can we discuss how I have never IN MY LIFE noticed chairs at a wedding until I got engaged and then I had a mini-freak out that my chairs would be ugly until I remembered … I never notice the freaking chairs!

      But seriously, I’m not a matchy person either. I don’t have much of a chic design aesthetic. And it wasn’t until someone explained to me what “colors” was that I understood what they meant. Colors? Well, my wedding sari is turquoise and my lengha is red and the invitations are more of a royal blue and my fiance is wearing gold, so um I guess we are having colors and by that I mean we’re having them all.

      I choose to think it will work. ;) But if it doesn’t whatevs. Are people really going to whisper judgmentally about the bride not matching the table cloths? And if they do, can I just shove cake down their mouth until they shut up?

      • Right?! I’ve talked to a bunch of people lately for whom chairs were the breaking point in their planning (as in, the detail that made them go, why the f*ck do I care about this?). I think it’s because chairs are almost SO arbitrary that they point out when we’re electing to care about something just for the sake of having an opinion.

  • I wish I could “Exactly!” this entire post! I’m a wedding planner & I got married in January 2011. I knew the expectations were high for me to design & execute an over-the-top, trendy wedding. As a longtime reader of Martha Stewart Weddings & big fan of Style Me Pretty, it could’ve happened.

    But that wedding wouldn’t have been us. We decided early on that we didn’t have to reinvent the wheel when it came to our wedding. All we needed were the basics for our version of a good party: good food, good drinks, good music & good friends. Design-wise, we kept it sweet & simple: our color scheme was white & ivory & our personal & centerpiece flowers were white carnations (yes, carnations! they were cheap & looked pretty!!) tightly bunched with no greenery. I did go overboard on the stationery- invites, programs, escort cards, menus, table numbers, etc- because I’m also a wedding stationer & I just adore that stuff. But we had no rentals, no lighting, no multiple entertainment, no dress changes, etc- most of which are the norm on my wedding planning jobs.

    In the end, the wedding was perfect for us. It looked sweet & simple as we wanted. More importantly, we enjoyed every moment, as did our guests.

    Just remember: you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Throw a good party & everyone will enjoy it :-)

  • McPants

    Y’all, this is super-timely for me. I think I’ve been teetering on the edge of listening to my saner friends (and fiancee) who remind me that our guests don’t read wedding blogs/magazines, but still, every time I’d see something I felt like was *my* idea in a magazine, or every time my mom would tell me my wedding was “on trend” or just like another she saw, I would feel…maybe not crushed, but definitely a little smooshed. Then last night as we were making a late-night grocery run, I picked up a magazine, flipped through it and started to complain about how unoriginal I must be, but then…I PUT THE MAGAZINE DOWN. It was kind of a big deal. I realized that I don’t need to subject myself to this stuff, and that my wedding will be awesome b/c I’m marrying my extraordinary partner, not because I have some sort of decor scheme never before seen on the face of the planet. Just b/c our friends and family know my interest in design doesn’t mean they’re expecting an extravaganza of wedding delight. They’re just expecting us to get married. And that’s enough.

  • Not just wedding blogs, but pretty much every kind of design blog out there is a bit of a sensory overload, and it’s easy to lose sight of what we want in all of it.

    When my husband and I were redecorating our reading nook, I went crazy looking through blog pictures and I actually found myself worrying whether or not the end result would be “blog-worthy.” After a good night’s sleep, the crazy drained away and I realized that even if I did blog it, no one looking at the pictures was gonna give a crap after about 2 minutes, and they were never gonna sit in it, so I just had to go with what worked for me, in real life.

    Thanks for this, I’m gonna link to it on my blog.

  • Elizabeth

    APW is not too wordy

  • It’s funny. The other day I was in a total funk because as someone planning a Hinjew wedding I don’t have a lot of models on the internet and it was making me all sad and feeling “othered.” Most wedding blogs, even Offbeat Bride, operate within the traditional western wedding paradigm, so if a girl wears a red dress that’s offbeat as opposed to say normal and traditional (as would be the case if one was operating from a Chinese or Indian paradigm.)

    It’s not anyone’s fault and I know most wedding bloggers try very hard to feature diversity, they just … don’t get a lot of chances to. So while I don’t blame anyone, I do sometimes feel sad.

    BUT, the flip side is, I can look at hundreds of wedding blogs and not really get much wedding envy. I see things and think “Oooh, pretty,” but not feel immediately like I have to have it because you know … I’m not having that wedding. I guess since I’m firmly grounded in an Indian aesthetic, most pictures just don’t apply.

    On the other hand, if the blogosphere was filled with page after page of Indian or Hinjew weddings, I’d probably get some serious wedding envy and would get very over-exposed very quickly and I’d become super indecisive.

    • Jillian

      You should do a wedding graduate post, I think you would have an awesome perspective! Good luck with all your planning!

  • LC

    This post.

    Is the reason you are my favorite wedding blog. And possibly any blog. Thank you.

  • Jillian

    Thank you for this post, I need a good common-sense “gut check” every now and then. So many great thoughts in this post, but what I really took away was how the wedding does not define who you are. Yes, it will be about you and for you, but no, my centerpieces/flowers/chair covers do not define my entire life.

  • clampers

    I love talking to my mom about weddings because she doesn’t look at wedding blogs, so she isn’t overexposed at all (I would even say she’s underexposed). I’m guessing that if I even suggested favors she would be like, “Favors? At a wedding?! This isn’t a kids birthday party.”

    I am having what I consider to be a “minimalist” wedding (a dozen guests [literally], no big dress, no photog, no flowers, not even music at the ceremony because for 12 people, come on), so I don’t think of myself as overexposed at all, just because most of the planning-centered wedding blogs don’t really apply to my situation. But I was kind of “freaking out” over envelope liners the other day and my mom said, “Which one did you like initially before you started fussing? Then go with that one.” Gut check! Loved it. Thanks Mom!

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  • Kat

    The ‘too wordy’ comment made me laugh. I sent this website to a close friend as soon as she got engaged and not too long after she said she’d had a brief look but “argh! so many words!”. As far as I know she since moved on to the pretty sites with lots of photos – and why not, they’re all so pretty! That’s what I looked at when I got engaged. When I got closer to the wedding I came here more and more and now, after the wedding I come here all the time – I like that all of the wisdom applies to life and I think it makes me more wise when my friends talk to me about their weddings. Bring on the book! I hope it has lots of lovely international applications so I can give to my girlfriends :)

  • Laura

    :) What is this “too wordy” business? !! I love the words – love them!! That is why I’m here – the words are delicious and awesome! (I suspect we mostly all feel that way. Just had to chime in with the adoration and appreciation for the discourse.)

  • I would say that weddings have hit a level never to be seen before; it’s more of a competition rather than the actual ceremony now.

    All the brides want to out do each other; they look at photos on web sites, magazines and want the ideal photos. Trashing the dress, going beyond what a friend had or a girlfriend had.

    The poor wedding photographer has to make her look a million bucks, a start, different from her friends, yet the same as a top gloss magazine.

    Figure it out where will it end????? As for to many words, never a picture will always make something look to wordy

    • Morgan

      Not all brides, especially not many of the brides who frequent this website.

  • Heather G

    The guy and I have started looking for an engagement ring and I now recognize that icky feeling I was getting as overexposure (thank you for the word). Getting a “green” engagement ring is really important to me, but I got a little crazy with it. I became so, so worried about how this purchase was going to affect the environment, that my mind was reeling. I was searching for articles to make sure that whatever I decide to do won’t hurt anyone in the world, ever. I can’t believe how much is out there! The shoulds and the should nots.

    I had to step back and do the gut check and get back to what we are about.

    Who would’ve thought you could have earth-conscious overexposure?? I’m glad I’ve had practice with the gut check because now I know it can happen to me.

  • Class of 1980

    I think blogs and internet inspiration are great. You can look at a lot without magazines cluttering your house. New inspirations happen faster nowadays because of of the internet, so the choices are far more overwhelming.

    Best advice is to allow yourself to get lost in the images for a while; eventually what YOU love will become obvious to you. Once you really know what you love, don’t deviate.

    The post reminds me of a time a thousand years ago when I went with a friend to shop for her wedding gown. While she was trying on the usual elaborate dresses, the youngish shop owner showed us her favorite dress, which she kept in the back should she ever get married. It was unlike any of the dresses in her shop – super simple and lots of movement and inexpensive. She laughed at how understated her tastes were compared to the stuff she sold.

    Anyway, 99% of your guests don’t read wedding stuff, so it’s all going to seem new to them.

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  • Ladies,
    Your comments were wonderful to read, I’m thrilled that my little “story” resonated with so many of you. I hope if you ever find yourself overwhelmed you can remember this little “gut check” and what’s truly important. Planning a wedding isn’t the biggest thing you’ll ever do in life, and who would want it to be, after all, don’t we aspire to bigger and better things than a white dress and frilly invitations? It isn’t the most important day, it is one of many important days that will fill your life with wonderful memories, and that my dears is what life is about. Fabulous memories and fabulous people!
    Happy wedding planning!!! <3 Lauren

  • “Don’ t buy into anything you don’t love. … Go with who you are and do it unabashedly, don’t apologize, don’t agonize, live into it. Stay strong.”

    That is the way to live a life, not just plan a wedding, but how to live.

  • My comment is a little belated, but: ilovethispostthemost.

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  • Wedding blogs are great tools for someone who has never planned a wedding before, but it can get intimidating. When I got married the internet was in it’s infancy and if there were any blogs I wasn’t aware of them. It would have been nice to have some information on how to plan a wedding (guess I could have bought a book), but I still got thru it and it came out great (although I’m not proud of the dress even though it was the style then). You have a good head of your shoulders. Keep up the good work and thanks for posting. Karen

  • OMG! I could so totally relate. There are just so many ideas out there that I constantly have to put myself on brakes just so I won’t be drowning in wedding details and constantly changing wedding ideas. I actually started a wedding blog myself just so I could chronicle our wedding planning stuffs and also as an outlet for me to “let go” of other wedding-y ideas that I gathered.

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