This Is the Only Gift I Give to Newly Engaged Friends

Truly, you guys

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APW Planner Wedding Planning Guide

The running joke at APW is that while most of us are married and/or have worked in the wedding industry in some capacity, we never get invited to weddings. (Blame it on living in major metropolitan areas where the median age for marriage is like thirty-four.) So this year, I think the universe got tired of hearing my joke, and decided that all of my closest friends and family should get engaged at the exact same time. HAHAHA GREAT JOKE UNIVERSE, THANK YOU. And you know what I’ve realized in the months since? It doesn’t matter how progressive the wedding industry gets, or how much technology makes it easier, wedding planning is as stressful as it ever was.

Luckily, I have at my disposal A) everything I’ve learned working at APW, and B) copies of A Practical Wedding and A Practical Wedding Planner. So with each engagement, out goes a little care package courtesy of APW. And I don’t want to undersell my ability to be a supportive shoulder and all, but the ones who have read the books are approximately 50 percent less stressed right now than the ones who haven’t yet (cough, cough, you know who you are). And I don’t think that’s a coincidence. Here’s why:

It will legit save you money: Let’s not kid about my intentions here. The number one reason to buy the APW book and APW planner is that they will save you money. In fact, I just went back and read my original review of the APW book, and it turns the APW book would have saved me $900 on extraneous crap that I didn’t need, plus at least two fights with my parents, and one totally unnecessary breakdown over wedding sparklers. I mean, the crying would have been worth it alone. But dollar bills, y’all.

Everyone else has opinions; the books have facts: When my sister got engaged, her first complaint was that she couldn’t escape the phrase, “If I could just offer you one piece of advice…” (and also that she’s polite and couldn’t tell them to shove it with their advice). Because here’s the thing: pretty much everyone who wants to offer you advice for your wedding has either planned a wedding and therefore thinks everything they learned will automatically apply to your wedding, or has an agenda for your wedding. But the APW book? It just wants you to have a seamless, stress-free wedding. And it’s backed up with hundreds of hours of tireless research so you can make informed decisions based on what you want.

Almost everyone jumps the gun: Most of the advice from the wedding industry about how you should plan your wedding is super backwards. (Guests first, guys, then decorations.) Which leads to things like… you buying a dress before you figure out your venue and then realizing they’re totally mismatched. Or getting into fights with your partner about said venue, because you never sat down and came up with a mission statement and priority list for your wedding. But the APW book and APW planner are designed to take you through the planning process in a way that saves everyone’s sanity and emotional well-being. I recommend this process for maximum effect:

  • Read through the APW book in tandem with your partner to get through the big emotional questions.
  • Hand said book off to the family member who is guaranteed to cause you the most stress during planning to help them reorient their expectations. Buy additional copies for anyone else you expect to give you a hard time.
  • Dig into the planner as you need it. May the index be your guide.

Google is great, but sometimes it’s the worst: Truth is, you can probably find most of what you’re looking for through a combination of Google searches, and the pages of this here website. But y’all, that takes time. And the thing about Google is I always feel like I have to check my sources against at least two other sources, because the Internet is full of crazy. With the books, you can spend $15 and get all those answers in one place, thus gaining hours of your life back. And time, in the world of wedding planning, is the most precious of resources. Plus, chances are pretty high that the APW books have thought of things you don’t even know you need to know yet. Here’s some of the stuff that’s included:

  • Setting a budget—and sticking to it
  • Choosing a venue: traditional, non-traditional, and everything in between
  • Hiring good vendors, keeping your friendors, and why DIY doesn’t always save money
  • Catering, rentals, and everything else Pinterest forgot to tell you
  • Wedding decor: a realist’s guide
  • Creating and writing a ceremony
  • Getting everyone to show up… and have a good time

Related tip: Books can add an extra layer of legitimacy for those family members who are maybe less trusting of the Internet. So if you’re trying to communicate to your dad that actually, you don’t owe everyone a favor at the end of the night, the book might sway him more than an Internet article. Because it’s a book. That you bought in a store. With a cover and binding and everything. So it has to be true.

I wish I could say there’s a magic formula to make wedding planning painless. But the weekly calls from my crew tell me it’ll never be so simple (family drama never says die!). But it can be easier. So if you’re newly engaged, or, like me, you suddenly have half a dozen friends who are planning weddings, then save yourself the gift cards and flowers, and get the engagement present that pays for itself.

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