I spent part of New Years Day curled up on our loveseat reading Miss Manners’ Guide To a Surprisingly Dignified Wedding, which was thoughtfully sent over by her publicist. I’ll have more details about it next week, just in time for you to buy it fresh off the presses (it is, of course, both excellent and hilarious).
But. In the meantime. Reading the book five months after are wedding let me pause, and think about some of the things that I stressed about that DID NOT MATTER. I ask all the wedding graduates this question, “What did you stress about that did not end up mattering in the slightest?” but I never fully answered it myself. (I’m about to do that, so reader beware: just like I encourage you to make your own choices during planning, I made mine. They might not work for you, but they don’t have to. I’m just another wedding grad.) The answer of course is: the big things mattered: the venue we chose, the service we wrote, the guests we had. On the less fun, but just as important side, Logistical things mattered (getting the beer to the site, making sure a sound system was set up, making sure the tables were set up, and on and on.) I really knew better than to stress about the small stuff, and I just should have listened to Miss Manners in the first place, but sometimes I didn’t. So. If you don’t listen to Miss Manners, perhaps you will listen to me.
What didn’t matter for us:
- Save The Dates. On some level I REALLY knew better, but I insisted on them. “People will want them,” I justified, “people expect them these days when they have to travel, and our older guests will appreciate the formality.” Nonsense. What no one tells you is that people who are not currently in the throws of the married getting *have no idea what they are.* NO IDEA. I do not kid. The number of people who said to us, with some visible confusion, “I got your postcard…?” Is more than I could count. I’m glad we didn’t send some hollowed out book full of sand that you had to dig though for a bottle with a secret message or whatever-the-going-thing-was-that-I-was-totally-into, because then people REALLY would have thought we were nuts. We should have picked up the phone, or dropped people and email (which would have been more personal anyway), and been done with it.
- The Wedding Website. We didn’t pay for ours (thank god), we just cooked something up on blogger. But, I’m, um, a writer. And when I have the chance to write I literally seem to be unable to control myself. So I wrote a long funny time-line of our relationship (stretching back to the hospital we were both born in). And then I wrote a humorous FAQ about the wedding. And then I wrote tiny humorous descriptions of each of the hotels. And then…. no one ever checked the site. We know because we had endless requests for directions, for information about our registries (I caved and listed them on the site, and I didn’t even need to), and for information about what people should wear. It’s a good thing I had fun writing it, because those hours were wasted. People want to talk to you about your wedding, they don’t want to check a website. No matter how web 2.0 we are, I’m not sure that’s ever going to change.
- Engagement Pictures. There are good reasons to get these – like you’re scared of being in front of the camera, or you want to get to know your photographer, or they are in your wedding package, or your mother will kill you if you don’t get them. I, however, would like to live in front of the camera, because I have been a total ham since birth, and the last thing my mom wants is yet more profession pictures of Meg. So, for us there was no logical reason to have them. Luckily, we mostly missed this trap, since we we gave up on the idea early on (though we did get a present of pictures from Emily pre-wedding day). But I wasted time THINKING about them. Should we do mustaches? Should we do signs? Should we make them Save The Dates (achem). Not worth it. Get them if you must, or don’t, but don’t spend a minute fussing your pretty head about them, or you know, dragging your bedroom set out into the middle of a field to take pictures on top of it wearing an Indian headdress (you laugh, but planning weddings DO THINGS TO YOUR BRAIN). Because once you’re married your only thoughts are for your wedding pictures.
- Our all local micro-brewed alcohol. I’d like to tell you it mattered, because we care about that stuff, we seriously seriously do. But it didn’t. I don’t think anyone remembers what they drank, and the case of wine from the local vineyard that we love? Well, it never got opened. Which is lucky I suppose, because we drink a bottle of it every month on the 9th. We call it ‘anniversary’ wine.
- The rest of the small stuff. Napkins. Escort Cards. Centerpieces. Chairs. Blah, blah, blah. You should have them (Or some of them. No napkins would make a memorable wedding), but you won’t remember them. You’ll have much better things to remember. So DO NOT WORRY about them.
Which is not to say that everything but your vows are frivolous time wasters. There will be a few things that you really honestly care about. They will surprise you, and they will end up delighting you. These will probably be things that you care about in your real life. And while they won’t be life or death, you’ll feel your heart strings tug when you think back on them. It turned out that all the time I spent searching for my dress WAS worth it. What I was wearing is all bound up in my memories of the day. Gay men lavished compliments on me (and that’s when you know you got it right), people were (oddly) blown away because of how different it was. I adored it, and still do. If I’d spent four grand on the dress, I might be telling you a different story, but at $250? It was worth it for me, all of that time and energy. Or our invitations. We cared about them. Christine, our amazing designer from heaven (and friend) poured love into them. The team of girls who goccoed with me poured love into them. Because of all that care, our guests noticed them, probably because they felt like love. They meant and mean something to me, something big, and they still do. I’m staring at a framed one on my desk now. Which… who would have thought?
So. I don’t have any clear suggestions (except skip the Save The Dates). But I can tell you that 90% of the small stuff doesn’t matter at all. So look at the small stuff, and if one or two things makes your heart leap with delight when you think of it (me with invitations) or your gut tell you that settling Just Will Not Do (me with the dress) then spend enjoyable moments thinking about those things. And forget the rest.
Unless the rest is napkins. Then just buck up and take care of i