Wedding Undergraduate: I Am Not A Planner

I’ve been a little bummed that we’ve had no wedding planning voices on the site since I got married, and stopped blogging about the fresh hell that is wedding planning (achem, I mean delightful relaxing time). So when reader Sarah sent this rant in, I had a very ‘sister preach it’ reaction. And so Wedding Undergraduates was born (Like wedding graduates, but still in school).

I want to specifically comment about the lack of trust she talks about… people inherently not trusting brides. It’s interesting, because I hear that across the board (and experienced that), and I’m not sure where it comes from. I do know that when planning a sane wedding, it feels like you get it from all sides. On the one hand you have people assuming you’re doing everything just like they did… when you’re not… which can be awkward, and on the other side you have people making nasty assumptions about all of the horrible BRIDAL things you’re doing… which you’re also not… which can make you want to punch them in the face (is that just me?). So with that, let’s hear it for Sarah:I am not a planner. I have faith that most things work themselves out, and I don’t stress over much. My future husband is the same way. We have impromptu dinner parties, we decide Friday morning to have a weekend getaway. Brunch with the fam? We call them on Sunday morning. Maybe it’s procrastination, or possibly a bit of laziness, but I like to think that we live in the moment and that we’re free spirits who don’t own agendas and whose calendars display August in November.

And now we’re planning a wedding. An outdoor wedding, on a farm 40 minutes outside the city, with 150 invites. In five months. On a budget.

We’ve been through some initial disagreements: I gave him a piece of my mind when he asked sarcastically if my girlfriends and I were going to talk about weddings all night at an upcoming party. I calmly explained to him that he is not allowed to “just show up” and that I’m not someone who’s going to become a “bridezilla” (whatever that means…). Since then we’ve pretty much been on the same page. He even suggested that we buy a notebook to keep track of our wedding planning ideas and experiences. He’s actively researching our food possibilities (friends of ours own a local restaurant, but I’m vegan so it’ll take some coordination), he’s really excited to design the invitations, and he’s talked me down from the ledge on more than one occasion (every once in awhile I have a good cry and ask why we can’t just elope?). As the wedding gets closer, I am reminded more and more why I love him, and how confident I am in us spending the rest of our lives together.

But. I was not prepared for everyone else around us to be so…untrusting of our decisions. It started early on: You’re getting married outside? You need a tent! (Our plan B is using the barn if it rains). You want white bridesmaid dresses? Maybe you should pick a different colour; white can make people look too pale. Vintage thrift store plates? That’s so much work, why don’t you just rent them? Here, let me call to get a price for you. What do you mean there’s no seating plan?! You’re not hiring a photographer? But how will you remember the day?!!! (Do I have short-term amnesia that I’m not aware of? I don’t need my wedding to look like a spread in a magazine and we know enough people with digital cameras – I’m sure ONE shot will turn out).

And right now we’re stuck on flowers. I want poppies (I think a bright pink/red combo against white sundresses and light blue sashes will work…) and Poppy is my grandmother’s name so I think it’s appropriate. But it’s like I’ve suggested using dead twigs or something. Poppies wilt too fast; they’ll make everyone think of Remembrance Day; it’ll look like the 4th of July! Why don’t you just use daisies? It’s more you! (Often my favourite: getting a lecture on who I am, in case I was unsure…) On and on.

I agree I’m impulsive. I’m not known for thinking things through. And I suppose we are doing things differently. There’s no giant spreadsheet of tasks, just some scribbles in a notebook, phone numbers and addresses on scraps of paper clipped to a page. The dress I bought was the first one I tried on (it’s from BCBG and I love it!) and I have seven bridesmaids while he only has five groomsmen. I’ve been getting this feeling that everyone thinks our wedding will be a disaster if they don’t step in and “help out.” Due to the organizational part of my brain that seems to be missing, all of my ideas are apparently ridiculous and beyond the realm of comprehension.
I’m realizing that an engagement is not necessarily a time to prepare for a wedding. For me, it seems to be a fine-tuning of who I am. I am learning to be comfortable with the strange looks I get when I say future husband will be wearing Birkenstocks for our ceremony. I am learning to defend my decisions to the people who love me most. I am learning to say “no” to them with kindness, because I’m also learning that they are offering their opinions from a place of love. I am learning that there will always be a “better” way to do things, but whatever that way is, it’s irrelevant.

I am not a planner. So I am not looking at my wedding as “planning an event.” I am looking at it like an opportunity for us to be creative, to have fun, to use our talents to express ourselves and create an amazing party for our friends and family. I am not “planning a perfect day” because I am aware that “perfection” does not exist. Not in a partner, not in a marriage and certainly not in a wedding. I am not going to spend hours negotiating with a caterer, but I might spend a few Saturdays looking for those vintage plates. I spent a total of one hour picking my wedding dress, but I spent a whole afternoon creating our Save the Dates (with an old typewriter, a picture of us from a costume party and a scanner). My poppies might wilt, and a bridesmaid in a white dress might hold a blue glass and a red strawberry at the same time which might make it look like the 4th of July. However, contrary to popular opinion, I have faith that everything will be fine. Waking up the next morning married to the man I love is all that really matters.

(And yes. Obviously Sarah will be coming back, like it or not, a wedding graduate. We’ll see you on the other side, lady!) This also means, if you have a particular wedding planning story that you really need to share, send it in.

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  • OMG! What is it with people thinking they know who you are better than yourself?

    I had a vendor last week tell me I shouldn't "scrimp" (her implication, not mine) and go with plain white tablecloths because "you're a designer and it's just not you"! I met this woman in November! I promptly told her that anyone who loves us isn't even going to notice the color of the tablecloths! The sad part is that I know she didn't even hear me and I feel like I'll end up being some sort of "Bizarro-Bridezilla" insisting, "NO! It's my day and I want basic white tablecloths!" At least the idea of such an outburst makes me giggle!

    By the way, Sarah, your ideas sound gorgeous and I can't wait to hear from you on the "other side"!

  • I normally don't comment, but this has to be THE BEST POST EVER!!!

    It is exactly what I needed to hear this morning! Thank you!

  • White makes people look PALE?! PALE makes people look PALE!

    Lord knows, I am the whitest person on the planet (my husband calls me "Space Ghost" because I'm "flaky and you can see right through me."

    No one told me not to wear white on my wedding day. I did, and I like to think I looked pretty damn fly.

  • I know I will love the wedding undergraduates just as much as the wedding graduates. There is so much that is infuriating with wedding planning that I want to punch a wall (or someone) sometimes.

  • oh my gosh! thank you SO MUCH SO SO SO SO MUCH for this post! Sarah perfectly sums up how my planning is going, and i have only been engaged for 2 months! People are all over me about every choice. I too bought my dress at BCBG in about 20 minutes, and only paid 40 dollars for it, since i found it at an outlet. this fact has somehow made it less appealing. Also, something that is annoying me is because we have only been engaged for a few months and I am a decisive person, people are accusing me of rushing. They seemed shocked that i have a dress already, which is simple short white embroidered sundress. But when i see something i like, i know it, and who could pass up a 40 dollar dress? I have a car payment and student loans to pay off, and i refuse to spend hundreds upon hundreds for one day. Some sane friends of mine seemed elated that i was being so practical… why dont my parents and family get this?!

    Anyway… Sarah's post is now in my freak out file. I wil be referencing her awesome advice regularly until my wedding. Thank you x 100!

  • wonderful post! Wonderful! *claps*

  • I just forwarded this to my mother, who had a long talk with my FMIL last night about how they are freaked out about our very similar sounding wedding (outdoor on a farm, vegetarian menu, 150 guests, etc). THANK YOU!

  • Preach it sister!

    I too am getting grief, not from either of our families, but from our friends that have an idea of what a wedding looks like. (You can't use the white linens the venue provided because I've picked out your colours three years ago when I worked at a rental store!)

    Apparently I'm being unreasonable by trying to be low maintenance. We're planning a wedding from two provinces away and couldn't care less about froofy gack or what we "should" be doing.

  • THANK YOU! I love this post and can so relate. And it made me realize I've spent the last year trying to prove to my FMIL that I have good taste, since she was totally freaked out by the idea of our relatively low-key New Hampshire mountain wedding. And now that I think about it, I'm kind of furious. She was so pouty about everything for so long that lately I've taken to showing her things I'm making or elements I'm including so she can "rest assured" that the wedding will be beautiful and fun. I'm a 33 year old communications professional – it's not like I'm not capable of pulling off a damn wedding.

    And thank you also for articulating that the engagement period is not just about planning for the wedding or for the marriage (although it should be more the latter than the former IMHO). It is also an excellent time to learn about yourself. I'm practicing kindness, I'm practicing patience, I'm learning to focus on the good intentions behind obnoxious comments. But I'm also learning to stand up for myself, and the family we are creating, when it is important to do so. And these are the unexpected gifts.

    Sorry for the rant. :) And Meg, thanks for this new feature.

  • Wow! This is so true…everyone was the same for our wedding- I felt like they thought we were some little kids trying to pull it all off and it would never work. In the end though, EVERYTHING was just perfect, exactly how I had imagined it and everyone loved it and had a great time and the only one little thing that went wrong was caused by someone else (who was one of the people not trusting us in the firast place). SO THERE!!

    Have a great wedding- it sounds fantastic! x

  • I feel like Sarah and I could be the same person!

    Oh there are SO MANY THINGS that I could send to you Meg…I just need to think of a constructive way to write out my rant…

  • I cannot wait to read more wedding undergraduates. Fantastic idea.

    I'm not at all the DIY, decorating fashionista type, and wedding planning makes me realize why that is – I don't care about colors or centerpieces or my undergarments all that much. I just don't care. And I'm embracing that by saying, "whatever. I don't care." I'm not going to become a wedding Barbie look-alike.

  • Oh man I'm in love!

    I love where you talked about learning more about yourself. I read it out loud to my hubby. It's so true. I came out on the other side knowing myself so much better than when we got engaged. It's had a calming effect on me.

    Keep your head up (as you seem to be doing). It's all worth it!

  • YES. Two weeks before the wedding, my mom told me, "Your wedding is the most unorganized wedding I have ever heard of!" (And I AM a planner and had all kinds of spreadsheets going, but I don't think I communicated my plans to her very well.) Anyhow, contrary to the major doubts of some, our wedding came together, and everyone seemed to have a great time. All the details worked out, even things like finalizing the venue 6 weeks before, renting dishes the week of the wedding, and buying food two days before. So it can be done, and no one (aside from those close to the planning) will know how much came together at the last minute!

    I like Sarah's comment about one of the things about wedding planning being learning more about how to stand up for yourself and your decisions as a couple in the face of other's lack of understanding. That was true for me, and I think my family came to accept us as a couple in a deeper way through the planning process, simply because we were making big (sometimes nontraditional) choices together as a team.

    Good luck to Sarah and everyone else planning!

  • …I read this and immediately decided that Sarah MUST have been my identical twin sister in a past life. I mean, I've been lucky – most of my friend are laid-back, artsy people, so we're not really getting this from all sides, but just…the wedding world in GENERAL seems to have this attitude. My mother keeps bugging me to go ahead and buy the fabric for my dress…and I keep telling her, "The wedding is in September. My weight fluctuates during the summer when I spend my entire life outdoors on a hot stage in heavy costumes. The dress can weight til I'm the size I'm gonna be."

    And Meg – LOVE LOVE LOVE the idea of wedding undergraduates. Fabulous. More please!

  • MWK

    This post totally articulated something that I hadn't quite been able to put my finger on until now: the lack of trust that people have in brides. That is so, so true, but I never understood it like that before, and I wondered why it made me so furious that no matter WHAT I said someone had to have an opposite opinion. Thank you for helping me to understand what that was, and why it made me so insane (I was not so good as you in terms of learning to be patient).
    It seems sort of dumb, really: if you are trusting this person to make the enormous decision of getting married, which implies they know what they want in a partner, why in the world wouldn't you trust them to know what they want for a PARTY?

  • THANK YOU! This post has saved my day – no, my week. No, I think it saved ME.
    I have been hearing so many things. I wanted to have the party in a barn – "But what if it gets cold at night?". So we skipped the barn. Same thing with the train-depot (is that the word? A garage for trains. My fiancee LOVES the old train-station it is at and I just loved the idea of having the party there.): "What if it gets cold?" "you have to bring a toilet there? Oh no!" "You have to bring tables and benches there? Oh that won't be classy enough!" – and on and on, so I skipped the train-depot. Every time, I had a minor meltdown with lots of tears and I am scared my fiance will walk out of me because I seem unstable. I just want to have a day that is US. Not the room every other couple is using. Now it will be the room everybody else is using. Fine with me.
    Next topic: I want to bake the wedding-cake myself. Spent WEEKS online in search for recipes that can be made ahead and frozen. All I hear is "We are just concerned for you that you will put too much on your shoulders" – AAA!
    I was considering NOT reading this blog anymore because it brought so many nice ideas into my head that apparently are NOT for brides like me.
    This post today saved me. I know now that I will be able to do it. It is MY wedding, my fiance is looking forward to showing off MY cake to everybody, so I WILL BAKE THE DAMN CAKE!
    Thank you. Have I already said that?

  • YES! What perfect timing. My fiance and i just spent a weekend at my parents house a) celebrating my grandparents 60th anniversary (very cool), b)checking off a few more wedding 'to-dos' now that we're 3 months out and c) realizing it sucks being the non-planner, first-to-get-married child of an uber-planner mother.
    it finally struck me this weekend that the only parts of the wedding she's happy with are the parts she's been 100% involved in. Any decision my fiance and i have made together, ourselves – she has already decided will be a disaster. anyone involved with the wedding that she doesn't know, will be a failure. and all i keep hearing is how we haven't planned well enough and we haven't been organized enough. yet we seem to be in pretty great shape, even without a hundred spreadsheets and lists.

    never mind the questions we've gotten from people who have no right whatsoever to be involved.
    'you're not serving meat at a jewish wedding?' (no – i want a cake made with real butter served with real ice cream, sorry)
    'you're just (just!?!?) going to serve cake and cookies and ice cream for dessert?' (yup!)
    'are you sure you want to do a buffet?' (yup, again!)
    'you got your dress on clearance?' (yes, and it's amazing and i love that it only cost $500)
    'you don't want a diamond wedding band?' (nope!)
    'you're sure you don't want matching bridesmaid dresses?' (totally sure)
    and of course my fav. . . 'what do you mean you aren't having a bridal shower?' (I mean i'm not having one, get over it – and luckily its one thing my mom is fine with)

    and to those who ask me if i'm having sooooo much fun with the wedding planning? no, i am not. its not fun and i don't want to do it. but i want an awesome wedding (once i realized the man i'm marrying didn't want to elope) and what i'm actually looking forward to is us being married, with everything that will come after the 'big' day. THAT is what I'm excited to plan and get ready for!

    glad there are other non-planners out there. i'm sure all our weddings will rock!

  • JOC

    Love love love this new feature. As much as the Wedding Graduate posts are fun to read (and I am already envisioning my own!), this is great as it will remind me that I'm not alone. :)

    I agree with Sarah's notion about people "not trusting" brides, and that's a great way of putting it. I think, in respect to our parents, many of them still think we are/want us to be 12 years old, not actual, full-fledged adults. Or, if we're going to go and be full-fledged adults instead of 12-year-olds, by golly we better look like extensions of them! When we don't, then we're "silly," or "irresponsible," or "impulsive" (Sarah, my mom likes to label me with that one, too!), because we may have a different world view on something.

    With our friends, I think it's more about societal pressure to conform. Everyone should do everything the same, except be a little bit different so as not to "copy", and if you're not going to do things the "same" way I did, then omigod, did *I* do it wrong??? Are you telling me my way of life is incorrect?! No no no! You MUST do it this way so as to validate my world view! You see this a LOT with weddings, but also with such things as the decision on whether to have kids, and if you do have them, how to raise them, etc.

    For those of us who march to our own drummers (or, as a dear friend so fondly put it in regards to me, to our "own brass bands"), we are puzzled by this mentality – both that our parents think we should be mini-mes, and that our friends think that WE think their choices are invalid just because we don't want them for ourselves. We would never judge you for your choices, only celebrate that it makes you happy – why won't you do the same for us?

  • Amy

    *claps* This just made my day. I am inherently a planner and probably a little obsessive about organization, but I feel like Sarah must live in my brain because she basically just read my mind. My friends have been amazingly supportive through the planning process but both my family and my future in-laws have been driving me insane. We want a fun and casual wedding but my family seems to think it's too casual and his family seems to think it's a frat party. Apparently we are incapable of making decisions for ourselves and whenever I try to take a stand, it makes me a "bridezilla."

    I will be so happy for the whole planning ordeal to be over and I couldn't be happier that we decided to have a short engagement because otherwise I would probably snap.

  • This is nice, especially about growing as a person through the wedding process. I feel like a legit adult when I can (nicely, politely, but firmly) stand up for what I want with all of the ladies in my life.

  • YES.

    Last week, one of my bridesmaid's extended family took it upon themselves to tell me that if I donned yellow shoes under my wedding dress, I would regret it for the rest of my life.

    Puh-lease. I've been dreaming about those sunshine-colored beauties since I was young.

  • This is pretty much EXACTLY how I have felt throughout the last four months! Thank you Sarah!

    We have gotten so many strange looks when we tell people that we getting married on a Monday morning in July (there are many reasons that it is the best day for us and for our families), that we're having French Toast ("Why not??" I tell them – "it's one of our favorite foods?"), that I do NOT have wedding colors (I'm pretty sure it'll all look pretty in the end, even if it isn't all blush and gold.), that I really don't mind that the bridesmaids are picking their own dresses (really! I'd rather they choose something in their budget, and that they actually like. I trust them to pick something tasteful.) The list could go on (and on).

    I am not really a planner either. We have a beautiful restaurant in an historic ranch house booked, and we have the church booked for our ceremony. There will be a ceremony, and there will be fabulous food for people to eat afterward, and time for everyone to visit and laugh. As long as we get our invitations out so that people know where to go, we will have a wedding. And it will be lovely.

    The rest? It's just fixin's.

    (Don't get me wrong. I have SO MANY projects and ideas planned, that I am soooo excited to do. I just happen think that they're extras. Like sprinkles on a sundae.)

    • Rebecca

      Like sprinkles on a sundae – I love that! Everything about your comment, I love. Your wedding sounds amazing and I hope it all went extremely well!

  • Meg

    Um. How is no one talking about how effing amazing their Save The Dates are….

    Just sayn'

  • Your timing is so…..well….eerie!!!

    I just had a long conversation with my parents over the phone last night that left me exhausted and with a sore throat where I not only had to tell my mother to stop playing devil's advocate and finding something wrong with every choice we make ( "you have to go with the chicken. it's safer!….ugh.) and just be EXCITED for the wedding. Needless to say her "advice" comes from a place of love and she had no idea she was making me bummed out.

    It's shocking, absolutely shocking how during this planning process (and I AM a planner- I'm a TV producer for crying out loud! I plan for a living!!!) how certain people will find a way to make it about themselves. It's not the planning of the even that is stressful…it's all the relationships that come into play when planning such an emotionally charged event.

    And, well…that is exhausting. We are five months away from our wedding. I'm excited to hear other undergraduate's experiences!

  • Meg


    Can we be friends? You've pretty much embodied a lot of my thoughts on wedding planning.

    I'm a bit of a procrastinator, and finishing my (actual) undergrad, applying for teaching school, and sponsoring my fiance for permanent residency have taken priority over wedding planning. I'm going for what really counts and leaving everything else in the dust.

    However, I am ashamed to admit that I did go through a brief "Bridezilla" stage when I first started planning, until I realised that that WASN'T me, no matter what the wedding industry says.

    I'm looking forward to hearing more "undergraduate" stories too!

  • Jo

    Great post, Sarah. I have to say we were pretty freaking lucky to NOT have a lot of second-guessing going on during our planning process. Our vendors were pretty chill, our families had minimal concerns about our choices, and everyone else just seemed excited.

    I guess I'm wondering if I'm the only one out there who was feeling kind of the opposite – like they were totally alone in figuring out these decisions… because a part of me would have appreciated the questions and comments, being so starved for any outside input on planning something for so many other people. (Except for the judgmental ones, of course!!)

  • I really like that girl. One of my dearest friends and I are planning our weddings for similar times of the year (summer, but a month and a half or so apart), and we've been able to dish to one another about how effing ridiculous people are. Agreed – you "have" to do this, or you "can't" do that have been some of the most popular phrases we've learned. and luckily for us, both of our future hubs have been AWESOME. So. I really like this girl. I can relate to her on soooo many levels. And yes. Her save the dates? Brilliant. Virtual hugs to both Sarah and Meg. From Kat.

  • I know. I got knocked for my pansises as they are delicate and won't last. Well those little bitches are going to be all over the reception! I'm wedding undergrad at the moment prepping for a May wedding in a few months.

  • Love this post! And yes, I like the idea of having a wedding undergraduate feature. Like one of the ladies said above, it makes me feel less alone.

    I really identify with what Sarah wrote. When we first got engaged, I told all and sundry that I didn't care about colors or table settings and that I wasn't planning to quit my job in order to plan a wedding. You would've thought I'd just announced that I eat babies dipped in hot sauce for breakfast. And this is coming from people whom I love! Who know that I am a practical woman! Who have never questioned my ability to plan full-fledged events on the side of my day job before. Why should a wedding be any different?

    The craziest thing by far has been having to defend our decision NOT to go into debt for this wedding.

  • Sarah, you're my new bridal hero. Thank you so much for saying this out loud. You rock and I can't wait to read about your beautiful wedding.

  • ohh thank you for this… nothing like being made to think that you're losing your mind because you (silly girl) want your bridesmaids to pick out their own damn dresses. ("did you ever see a wedding where the bridesmaids didn't MATCH?!?")

    and ditto everyone else – why should there be a fight to keep things simple?!

  • Thank you for this post and this new series. Yes all around. It's been both frustrating to plan the wedding and empowering too – I truly feel like the engagement is allowing us to grow into ourselves as an adult couple, and navigating these decisions and expectations has been a huge part of it.

    I, for one, and looking forward to the wedding graduate post from Sarah, 4th of July colored or not.

  • i have a small, but pretty emblematic, bride-distrust story. my fiance and i are living in Austin, but since we're both, along with our entire families, from southern California, we're getting married there (in my hometown, in fact). last week, i got a call from my stepmother, but because i was at work, i didn't pick it up. two minutes later, i got a call from my father, and, getting worried, picked up the phone. he instructed me to call my stepmother back immediately, because she was having some kind of crisis.

    it turned out her "crisis" was the discovery, upon going to drop off the deposit check at the venue, that it was an OUTDOOR VENUE and they had NO TENTS and we're getting married in NOVEMBER and had we thought of this?!

    yeah. i, a grown-ass woman, had to explain to my stepmother, another grown-ass woman, that we had indeed considered the specifics of the venue facility AND the date before handing them thousands of dollars. we had talked with the on-site wedding coordinator, we had checked rainfall averages, we had LIVED IN LA OUR ENTIRE CHILDHOODS, we know what the weather will be like. WE KNOW.

  • Sarah – I love your post and I think you are wise beyond your years. I love that you state you are not planning a perfect party because perfection does not exist.

    HELLOOOO?? It certainly doesn't! Yet the grand wedding machine would have you believe not only that it exists, but you, your fiance and all the money you can come up with are solely responsible for the perfection required in order to be married! Oh – you spent $40K on your wedding and it wasn't perfect? Damnnn you shoulda spent $60K then, huh??!!

    Hahahaha! You are smarter than them! You win! I'm so happy for you and proud of you! You and your fiance are intelligent, creative, fun-loving and caring. Those are winning characteristics. Have fun!

    Oh yeah…your Save The Dates are the absolute BOMB!

  • Yay! Solidarity! People ask me how the planning is going and when I say "really well" or "i think it's going fine" they look at me sideways like I'm a nut. As if a person couldn't possibly be DONE or READY or REASONABLE or *PRACTICAL* about this.

    On the flowers, subject, you might think ranunculus (aka swirly roses in my internal flowers nomenclature) if you want bright orange non-wilters. Best of luck! Can't wait to see the graduate post!

    @adventures: your mom's quote made me smile.

  • conmigo

    yes yes yes. This is exactly it. I am a planner (big time), and am still experiencing all of this. From all sides. Another thing that I constantly remind myself, is that I am the ONLY one who is getting this from all sides, not even my fiance (because people just assume he isn't involved, which is soo not true).

    So when FFIL says, "but– you have to do a bouquet toss!" he likely thinks that 1) what is the big deal to mention this one little thing, and 2) he is just messing around with me like he ALWAYS has. But with this project, I find myself so defensive, and trying to constantly be 3 steps ahead of everyone else so that the decisions are already made by the time others think to put in their 2 cents…

    Fiance and I have decided that when either of us says, "interesting, the two of us will need to talk about that," it is a clue to the other to SHUT DOWN the peanut gallery conversation. Change topics. "The two of us will need to talk about that" and we're done. No decisions by committee, no watered-down weddings that are so afraid of being WRONG that they are not longer FUN, and no relinquishing control.

    Of course, to balance this, we've been actively coming up with projects for these well-meaning people who need to put their wedding energies somewhere… FFIL is now doing calligraphy on the invites. So he can focus on that, and know that we do appreciate his talents and input, etc. So anytime someone steps up with the peanut gallery opinions, we think of an alternate project for them.

    My people managing skills have skyrocketed in just 2 months, just in time to head to MBA school after the wedding…

  • I didn't even know what to call it when we were planning our wedding. But that's it exactly. It's that lack of trust. It's that expecting that you will do things just like they did. And I HATED it! When my now husband would hear about it, he'd always compliment me on not ripping heads off. That's probably what kept me from actually going through with the ripping heads thing.

    After the fact everyone loves what you did. Before the fact, there sure are a lot of people who think otherwise.

  • I am just adding my voice to the clamor of thank yous, because this post really made my day. Today I just hit the two-week-panic state and feel like I never want to discuss portion sizes vs. head counts again. The fact that so many other brides-to-be are getting the same noise makes me feel less insane.

    Now, I'm off to start my fabric banner project that I've been looking forward to for weeks that only one other person (my MOH) thinks is as exciting as I do. tthhhppp! to all of them!

  • "(Often my favourite: getting a lecture on who I am, in case I was unsure…) On and on."

    I'm 10 days out from my own wedding. And this post just was spot on about how this whole planning experience has felt like family and friends hacking away at the ground I was standing on. With good intentions of course… but you know what they say about those. I'm so relieved this darn day is almost here…
    bravo Sarah for telling it like it is!

  • SMK

    I don't comment too often on all of the numerous blogs I go around reading, but I had to on this because it helped so much today.
    I love that I have found so many other brides (and grooms) out there who are doing what they want, for the budget they want. We are paying for everything ourselves and as much as I want a kick ass party, I also want to pay my bills (and hopefully get a house at some point) after! And I have to keep reminding myself that the people who will be in attendance are being invited for a reason – they love us, and we love them.
    Managing others' expectations (from vendors to associates to distant family) can be soul crushing at times. Fortunately the ones closest to us have been so supportive that we can still remember to smile and have fun!

  • I'm getting here a little late but the first thing I wanted to say when I saw this post was – umm amazing save the dates!! but I think it's a measure of how great the rest of the post is that the std hasn't been a huge topic of discussion. there's just too much else!

    yeah. the lack of trust. that's a great way to put it. I've gotten some of that from some of my family (maybe it's because I'm the youngest child? and I'm marrying a youngest-child?), but I also Really relate to what Jo said. So often I get "just do whatever you want, it's your day." umm, yes, thank you, but I was actually looking for an opinion..

    I'm wondering if anyone else ever experiences a sort of culture shock, after being immersed in APW-land, when you're feeling totally awesome and secure in the way you've planned your wedding, you're practical and you know it clap your hands, and then somebody, friend/family/vendor, says something implying that you'll be the Queen that day, or you-don't-want-to-be-bothered-with-this, or something else that makes you feel like everyone assumes you're going to go bat-shit insane and expect to be carried around on a palanquin all day and have everyone cater to your every whim. it's like what do I have to say to convince you that I don't want to be some kind of princess for a day?

    ..I think I've gotten off topic. anyway thank you for this post, love the undergrad idea, love Sarah's thoughts and can't wait to see her as a graduate!

  • I'm one of those "pre-engaged" lurkers, and I have to say, the timing of this post is uncanny. Just this morning in the shower (where the best thinking occurs), I was considering how I can tap into the APW community once I do get engaged, and how I hadn't seen many posts about what it is to be engaged (other than planning a killer party, of course). I love the comment about the things Sarah is learning now that she is engaged and in the planning process. I look forward to more Wedding Undergraduates. Way to go!

  • Sarah, it sounds like you're having fun with your wedding. You're spending time and energy on the parts of it you enjoy, and not wasting time worrying about the parts you don't really care about.

    If there's anything a wedding "should" be, it's fun and joyful. I think you're absolutely nailing it.

    Like Jo, I've been lucky to avoid much of the second-guessing. My friends and family are all chill (which I'm super grateful for), and I guess it helps that my wedding plans seem "normal" in a lot of ways. But I've definitely had the "Are you SURE you want your bridesmaids to wear black?" conversation, and the "Why are you waiting a year and a half to get married?" conversation.

    And my fiancĂŠ has gotten TONS of second-guessing about my engagement ring, which is lab-created sapphires. "I bet she really wanted a diamond," people tell him, or "Are you going to upgrade later?" He enjoys telling them that in fact, I proposed to him, and since he wanted to give me an engagement ring, we shopped together. So yes, my ring is exactly what I wanted.

    I think you're completely right. Wedding planning is largely an exercise in learning to trust yourself and your fiancĂŠ(e), and navigating the expectations everyone else has about who you should be and what a wedding should be.

  • Ah, thank you Meg. I just got engaged and am currently planning my wedding in six months with my fiancé, and although I am a planner (I got so obsessed reading wedding blogs and books before we were even engaged that my fiancé "grounded" me from all things wedding planning), I think I can definitely relate to a lot of the issues Sarah is facing. We're planning a very different wedding than anyone we know is accustomed to (outdoor semi-destination wedding in Colorado when we live on the East Coast, DIYing and eliminating lots of seemingly crucial elements), and I'm feeling the lack of trust. "All of my ideas are apparently ridiculous and beyond the realm of comprehension." Yeah. Not that anyone will outright say that, but I've had plenty "well we were thinking you could do…." Maybe I want to make cupcakes and cookies rather than spend a fifth of our budget on a cake. Maybe I'm excited to prepare lots of yummy vegetarian hors d’oeuvres to show people we don't just eat salad, and so that I can eat everything there. I love that Sarah is going to have poppies… I wanted poppies, but I heard the same protests and am still working it out.
    It seemed that, just as I was starting planning my wedding, all of my favorite wedding bloggers had just been wed. So it’s so so nice to hear from a fellow “wedding undergraduate” who’s also trying to be genuine and sane. Way to go Sarah, I’m cheering you on, and hoping I can also learn to “say ‘no’… with kindness” and enjoy what I do have and not miss what I don’t.
    p.s. This is the first time I’ve ever commented on a blog (though I lurk like nobody’s business), I had to borrow my fiancé’s google id to do it, that's how much this post meant to me

  • This idea just jumped out at me, "You’re not hiring a photographer? But how will you remember the day?!!! (Do I have short-term amnesia that I’m not aware of? I don’t need my wedding to look like a spread in a magazine and we know enough people with digital cameras – I’m sure ONE shot will turn out)."

    I went whole hog and hired a photographer that cost thousands, yes, thousands of dollars, thinking that photos would be the most important thing we could purchase for our wedding. Honestly, it just wasn't worth it and my friends' pictures were much better and more emotionally relevant then the pros.

    Take it from someone who paid dearly, stick to your guns and do what you think is important. You will have fewer regrets and your bank account will thank you. xo

  • Meg

    I think that's a go-with-your-gut thing. We spent a few thousand on photography, and I fretted a bit, and holy cr*p. What we got was worth four times what we paid, and they are treasures.

    That said, some of my favoriet pictures come from the polaroid we gave our friends to play with. They are truly amazing and emotional and real.

    So. Whatever works. And your gut usually has a pretty darn good idea on that. (and if you do hire a photographer, you MUST go with your gut on that one.)

  • so yeah, those save-the-dates are off-the-hook. and can I just say, you are awesome!!!! and as soon as I get home from work I will be reading all of the other comments as well ;).

    who says "white makes people look pale" to a bride?????

    and maybe this is the wrong place to put this but… I totally love that you are doing poppies, but they might wilt, so you could consider fake ones or some fake ones and probably save some money on them in the process.

  • wow. apparently i am not alone (judging not only by this post, but by all the comments!!). that's nice to know.

    wedding planning sure is a learning experience. so far, i've (apparently) learned that: there's no possible way that my fiance could cook pancakes for our 60 guests (even though he wants to and he's good at it), even though we don't drink, we should provide plenty of alcohol at our MORNING wedding (it's just what people do!), and 60 people can't deal with 2 outhouses– we just have to rent a port-a-potty. in addition to a million other little details that i never wanted to care about.

    thanks a million for this post!!!!!!

  • Maybe I'm too early in my planning, but I haven't come across this yet. Or maybe I have and it hasn't happened enough for it to irk me. Like when I was talking to the church secretary about how I was thinking about using the fellowship hall for the reception to keep things sane, and she was saying how it would be great to keep the limousine costs down as they'd only be coming to one site. Of course she got whisked away before I could tell her that I will probably arrive in my dad's car and leave in my husband's. Well, we'll see how the planning goes!

  • omg, this IS my wedding planning life!

    One of the problems with weddings: After you've planned your own, you're pretty sure you're an expert. And you may reflect back on your own mistakes and assume you can help everyone else (ME!) avoid same mistakes.

    I'm still working on the nicest way to tell folks: I'm happy to make my own mistakes! (and kinda confident I'm not making your mistakes!)

  • Nina

    @Jo: yeah, I'm in the same boat. Most everyone is being quite chill (with only a couple of notable exceptions – and those exceptions certainly have taught me a lot about being patient, standing up for myself, and sticking to the high road. good life lessons I never expected to learn from wedding planning) but sometimes I wish I could talk things through with other people more.

    Although it has been funny (and revealing) when I mention to my friends who are also highly practical and anti-WIC that we are not giving away favours (since "it is not a child's birthday party") and invariably they end up offering me suggestions on what we could give as favours. I guess everyone does have a picture in their head of weddings that must be defended if you try to go outside that box!
    I'm sticking to my guns on this one.

    PS. love the undergraduate idea!

  • Vee

    "I’m realizing that an engagement is not necessarily a time to prepare for a wedding. For me, it seems to be a fine-tuning of who I am."

    I agree with this so hard that I got giddy when I read it.

    Can't wait for the wedding graduate post from Sarah!

  • Yay for undergraduates!

    @D-Day: Yes, I am starting to feel like blog-land is a happy bubble that I LOVE but nobody else has ever heard of. My mother can't imagine how anyone could ever arrange their own flowers, or how non-tuxified groomsmen could possibly look classy enough, or that i don't CARE about cake toppers!! and etc. So I want to say, well I know all these people who did it and rocked it! But actually, I just lurk on their blogs. Which she has never seen.

    Another occurence of incorrect assumptions: during my first gown-trying-on excursion, the David's Bridal staff put a chapel-length veil plus face blusher on my head (why do they just put veils on your head without, like, asking?) and I felt so….. packaged. I think I may have shivered a bit. But how do you explain that what someone else thinks is beautiful is my idea of awful(without being a bitch)? So I just silently got rid of the damn thing.

  • I think that my favorite instance of this was when I would ask for help so that something wouldn't cost an arm and a leg and people would tell me that I probably wouldn't find anyone who would be willing to do that and I should just hire someone.

    This happened more than once and every time I found someone. So, why was it necessary to step on my attempts?

  • Oh, I could have written that post six hundred times over. Sing it, sister!

    What is it about the low maintenance way of doing things that COMPLETELY freaks people out? I have managed to run my life quite well for the last thirty years. I think I can manage to plan a wedding and know what I want out of it.

  • Hannah

    YES. Never before in my life have people treated me so poorly as they do now that I'm getting married. And never have people been so scared of me and yet attempted to coddle me. The worst part is that eventually I've actually started believing that I'm being a monster.

  • Meghan

    Hi, Meghan from yesterday's Wedding Grad post. I had forgotten that everyone always asked about "wedding colors". This question always cracked me up (among others). I am also psyched to see what Sarah says on the other side because for me at least I have forgotten so much of the things that drove me crazy at the time!

  • people are crazy… those poppies sound absolutely perfect, lol.

  • I got married in August and am also not a "planner". By the day before the wedding I cared so little I sent other people to pick out flowers at the farmers market instead of going myself (flowers are flowers). We also decided that friends and family could be our photographers for the same reason you did. HOWEVER, my dislike of staged photos meant that I didn't even think about family pictures. At all. It didn't even occur to me to take the time to make sure there were at least a few of everyone. This means that there is not A SINGLE picture of my mom at the wedding (she was taking care of food stuff and the like). Don't make the same mistake and be sure to make some time to get pictures with your family. Aside from that, the whole minimal planning thing was great for us. Good luck!

  • *YES!!* I had to strongly resist the urge to read this entire post out loud to my roommates as this is EXACTLY what I have been dealing with these past 2 weeks. I sent out my save the dates and upon receiving them, my family tried to stage a coup to move the wedding from Seattle to LA (because didn't I realize that if we had it in Seattle "no one" would come?). Sarah's comments about the engagement period really being a period of self discovery could not resonate more strongly with me. So THANK YOU MEG & SARAH for this post – I can't wait to see more wedding undergraduate stories in the future!! (oh yeah – and I totally printed and taped this post to my bedroom wall so I can be reminded of all the strong, sassy and thoughtful individuals who are standing up and holding strong to what they believe in)

  • B

    Well, let me tell you I AM a planner (I work as a project manager!!!), and nobody trusts me either to organize this wedding!
    It always amazes me how everyone thinks they "own" our wedding and how they know better than us!

  • bjm

    yay for doing things YOUR way. I'm planning a NYC barn wedding myself (queens farm!) and my fiance and I have (knock wood) kept everyone out of the decision making realm to minimize the opinions. it's been fun, it feels like 'us', and we plan to just enjoy it all and not get wound up on the details. not enough couples realize the importance of personal touches– or aren't guided enough to realize that their wedding CAN be personalized, because the wedding industry is such a behemoth. Wave your freak flag, and wave it high! it's what makes people love you, after all– and it's what will make them remember the thought & detail you brought to your wedding for them! enjoy it all. And good luck with the vintage plates!! if you find a treasure trove, let me know– i've been on the same thought plane but it's been a bit elusive. maybe there should be vintage plate sharecropping or something?

  • one word: REFRESHING!

  • Ok, so perhaps I'm way off base. Maybe you all do have psycho families and friends who think you are truly incompetent and incapable of choosing your own tablecloths. But perhaps, if I may, consider that *maybe* they are just trying to help. Planning a wedding, no matter how simple, is work, much in the same way as planning ANY party. Details get lost, there are things that any, even the most organized and capable of us all, are bound to forget or not think about. Especially if, heaven forbid, you dare to have a life while also planning a wedding. I think it sends us down a dangerous path if we assume that everyone who offers a piece of advice or questions some aspect of a choice we have made is also questioning our ability or our competency. Certainly we are battling a ginormous industry that thrives on making us question ourselves into buying crap we have never even heard of. And many of us are also battling family expectations, cultural expectations, budget realities, etc. But the thing that has kept me from going completely ape through this whole process is knowing that my friends ultimately LOVE me and that their intentions *really* are just to help in whatever way they can.

  • lima bean – you are absolutely right that most of the (unsolicited) input family & friends give is from a place of love, from people just trying to help. and I think absolutely the only way to survive the process is to keep reminding yourself of that very fact.

    However, I also think given the context (a thread on APW), it can probably be assumed that we are mostly all aware of that, and most of the things we would complain about are things that go above and beyond that level. of course it's always nice to have a place like this to unload your annoyance about something even when you fully realize no harm was intended.

    Also, "just trying to help" is such an easy thing to hide nasty words behind, I don't think we should excuse these things and accept them as a welcome part of the process, just because someone thinks they're being loving and helpful by telling you that a mermaid-style dress will just make your ass look bigger than it already does (or whatever). You shrug it off because you know they have good intentions but that doesn't really mean they had any right to say it.

  • What drives me nuts is that people assume that planning is not fun. With the exception of a small handful of instances, I have enjoyed every single moment of the planning process. Yes it's been stressful and hard. But not the entire time. I've had so many opportunities to stretch my creative limits and the results have been fabulous!

  • Meg

    That's lucky. And rare. Relish that.

  • Meg

    @LimaBean, I was going to respond, but @d-day hit the nail on the head. I trust my readers are smart and self aware enough to know the difference between kindly help, and not trusting you. And there is a rather substantial difference.

  • Meg

    ….AND…. that in no way means other people's families are 'psycho.' Please stay kind.

  • KG

    Sarah – your wedding will be fabulous! Don't let anyone's meddling discourage you… including my own.
    Love, Karen.

  • Adina Marguerite

    awesome awesome awesome post. I'm a total planner and have managed events for hundreds of people, but for some reason I get the same crap and everyone assumes I don't know what I'm doing and can't make good decisions about our own wedding. (All except my awesome and amazing fiance, he has total trust in my skills at least :-))

    it's crazy though! I'm one of the first of my friends to get married and I've made a mental note to myself to not treat any of them like people are treating me!

    I echo the sentiments of the awesomeness of the concept of wedding undergraduate! I've got 7 more months of it ahead so I'd love to see how others are getting through it as well!

  • Cate Subrosa

    Great post. Excellent idea, undergraduates.

  • I relate to this article so much it's scary! My mom is my biggest critic and although I love her to bits, she seems to think I'm incapable of planning a beautiful wedding because I'd rather not do this or that and I like this over this. It's so frustrating and I've had a few break downs already and my wedding is still a year and a half away! Like others have mentioned, it was really nice to read a post like this, totally made my day better!

    I even wrote about it in my wedding planning blog!

  • Wow, after reading all your comments, I'm feeling very lucky that my family is as chill as my partner and I are. (Our biggest problem is that my fiancĂŠ and I are pretty indecisive, so people say things like "Flowers?" and we say, "Yes." rather than "Purple hydrangeas accented with tiny white daisies"!)

    However, it is really nice to have this new undergraduate series, as there are so many things that come up while planning a party this size that we all have in common. It'll be nice to get ideas from how other people resolve the issues!

  • Thank you so much for this post – It pretty much sums up how me and soon to be husband have been feeling these last 3 months! A little of perspective is always helpful – thanks!

  • jdubbaya

    Can I just say 'thank you' for this sentence: "I am learning to defend my decisions to the people who love me most. I am learning to say “no� to them with kindness, because I’m also learning that they are offering their opinions from a place of love."

    I've been struggling with my mother-in-law for the past month, who is an uber-planner, always the hostess-with-the-mostest (she does put on a good party). But I couldn't figure out why I was having a hard time dealing with her. That is, until I read the sentence quoted above and it hit home. I've been feeling this incredible guilt and uncomfortable cringe every time she suggests something and I have to turn down the suggestion. Its come to the point where I cringe a little at the incoming suggestion bombs every time I talk to her. But now, I realize, she is just trying to help out, in the ways that she knows how and that it is out of love. I just hope she understands that I have a vision, and it doesn't involve mirrors or crunched up tablecloths in the centerpieces. I just hope that she understands I appreciate her help, and appreciate her willingness to make suggestions, no matter how large the suggestion bombs.