What I Stressed About For Our Wedding That Was Not Worth It (Lots…)

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

Featured Sponsored Content

  • "And forget the rest.
    Unless the rest is napkins. Then just buck up and take care of it. "

    hehehehehe, thanks for that. You make me giggle almost every day, and I appreciate it greatly. (I didn't quite understand it when people said they come here as their safe haven, because my parents are so chill, but now that I'm here with his parents stressing about the one thing we have to make a decision on, I finally get it. So thanks bunches!)

  • Oh the napkins. we still have 100's of napkins with our names on them because a family member told us we just had to have them at the wedding.

    Now I try to use them WHENEVER guests come over for drinks-usually handed out with a huge laugh and a "please, use at least 5 of them."

    And hey, on the upside- if it's a wild party and people forget whose house they are in, all they have to do is look at the napkin!

    Thank God I left off the date.

  • I agree that most thing wedding are slightly a waste of time. But isn't that the whole point. All you need to get married is to get married. Everything else is for funsies. I personally am going to enjoy wasting my time over stationery which people may just chuck in the bin or collecting random things which people may not even notice. But you know what, I don't care. Tis my prerogative. My wedding is not going to be perfect because it will be a representation of me and my boy. Please don't tell people what they can and can't do. I thought the whole point of having independent thought was to allow everyone to do what the hell they wanted!?

    Sorry for the rant but it does make me a little grumps when I am told what to do! I do not feel pressured into doing anything for my wedding and I am happy with that. Is that not the point?

  • Meg

    I just said I adored doing stationary, and that you should do what's fun for you. But not the other stuff.

    This is what worked for me. I was pretty clear about that. And yes, I'm allowed to give my individual perspective now and then. Six months after your wedding, you'll think through your decisions the same way. I hope everyone will… it's part of how you learn.

  • Your entry made me smile because I make fun of myself every day for the amount of time and money I've wasted so far on my wedding planning.

    In real life, I'm very frugal. I'm worried about spending an extra hundred bucks on a new computer that will probably last me five years. But the transportation to and from the reception hall? I'm ready to spend thousands of dollars…all for two measly hours!

    Keep your opinions coming – I really enjoy them!

  • Yeah, I get that it is your point of view. Yet you must realise you are immensely influential in the world that is blog.

  • Good post! We got our professional photos from our wedding back a week or so ago and I'm ashamed to say that I was actually a little sad that there weren't more pictures of all the THINGS we made. Um, hello? It didn't take too long before I realized that I hadn't made all those THINGS to be photographed, I made them because it was fun to create something new, I needed a creative outlet, and becuase I wanted our guests to think "Holy heck, these two really went all out – let's party to match!" I had never stressed over the things and I'm glad I didn't.

  • @anna – I think you're looking at the few parts of the post where Meg says don't do something and completely ignoring the huge chunks where she says stuff like "I don't have any clear suggestions " and "what didn't matter for US" or "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"

    And even with A Practical Wedding being influential in the blog world it's still, at its heart, one person's blog with one person's opinions. (with the occasional wedding grad chiming in.) APW readers are smart cookies who are probably reading at the minimum five or more other blogs and won't be influenced by just one. And APW wouldn't be as fun if it were like those bland blogs that tried to please everybody.

    Unless, of course, I'm wrong and Meg really does have a plot to take over the world with her blog. If so, I'll gladly drink the Kool-Aid and follow orders. Do we get t-shirts? Make mine a large, I'm kinda busty.

  • Crikey, I stand corrected! No more dissent from me.

  • @anna- the good thing about Meg being influential is that she's bringing some sanity to the blog world, where otherwise we get told "If you don't have perfect, letterpressed save the dates, your wedding will be a failure."

    I got married on the same day as Meg, and I agree with every single one of these points. However, five months BEFORE my wedding, if I had read this, I would have done all these things anyway. Sometimes you can't realize what won't matter until after the fact. Too bad- I would have saved a ton of time and money!

  • @Lauren I guess I like to think I already know that things are not essential. Gosh that sounds super arrogant. That's not how I am trying to come across. Must stop posting on this page.

    Sorry Meg, I think I'm just trying to say I actually agree. I am so glad people agree that the "norm" is not the essential.

  • Anonymous

    APW is not about giving direction as to what couples should do, but about giving permission for couples to do what is meaningful to them. To hear what didn't matter for Meg, and what didn't matter for other commenters, is what makes this a community.

    So, what I'm saying, is don't worry so much about disagreeing or about legitimizing your choices, because there's no need.

  • Love it! Our wedding is 10.2.10, and recently I've been starting to get that gnawing voice in the back of my head saying "start working on your Save The Dates" and "you haven't worked on your half done wedding website in months." As for the Save The Dates, I think you're totally right (for my wedding anyway). We're having a fairly small wedding of just family and really close friends, and I'm pretty sure most of them already know the date, and if they don't or they forgot could easily find out. As for the wedding website, I still think we'll do one. I've found wedding websites to be helpful in the past, though I think that they're definitely not worth pouring your heart and soul into. Plus, html… that's my fiance's schtick, not mine, so it's no stress on me :)

    Also, I really think the recurring message on this site of don't stress the small stuff has finally broke through that thick head of mine! I just have NOT been thinking about anything wedding detail related for a while now. I still think about how much I'm looking forward to the wedding, and it never involves aisle decorations or a candy buffet.

  • that's it! STDs just became a huge annoying thing, and this post made me decide to not do them. I'll send out some emails and do the invites early.

  • I think the fact that STD is the acronym for Save the Date makes them undesirable enough.

    That said, I've been engaged TWO WEEKS and already have family hounding me for engagement pictures. I feel like laughing hysterically – Don't these people know we have a wedding to plan!? I think I'll calm down once we get a venue booked, but as I completely agree how important that is, I'm hoping it'll be smooth sailing from there… (riiiiight)

  • @Erin- I liked my save the dates SO much better than my invitations, but mostly because I found them hysterical- we photoshopped bobble-head type pictures of my husband and I in wedding gear on top of an actual Boston postcard, and I still laugh when I look at them. But when we sent them, I had a number of guests email me and ask how they should reply to say they were coming. And then I was mortified that they thought my bobble head postcards were my actual invitation. And then I thought THAT was hysterical.

    @anna- I know what you mean. I considered myself a SUPER low-key bride- I had no wedding party, got my dress at the Filene's sale for $250, and had my reception at a bar. But in retrospect, there was STILL so much that didn't matter and wasn't worth my time and didn't make my wedding great. That's what I wish I could have realized beforehand. So if you already have- I'm jealous!

  • I'm getting married in three days. My mantra for the past few weeks? It will be dark. Not to say that I don't want things to be pretty, but if a ribbon on a jar is not completely perfect, it will probably go unnoticed…in the dark.

  • Anonymous

    I am SO GLAD that we did not do save the dates – the time! the energy! the stress of finalizing our guest list so early! the money! But I do love receiving them and putting them on my fridge and remembering when the wedding is (much less cumbersome than tacking the actual invitation on the fridge, which I do sometimes). So there are pros and cons.

    I lieu of a save the date, we sent an email (to those we knew we were inviting, and whose email address we knew) with a link to our wedding website. I found it extremely annoying that people asked me questions about things that were clearly posted on the website, since I know those people (and really, almost every single one of our guests) looked at our website. Like many of my wedding planning experiences, it taught me about how to be a better wedding guest when I'm on the other side. I'm really glad we did a website, though, because most of our guests did get our registry info and directions to the hotel and venue from there (or anyway, if they asked us we pointed them there and then they didn't forget and ask us again). And they also got a good description of some of the religious stuff going on that day, which many of them thanked us for.

  • Anonymous

    Ahhh…. We are getting married in 7 months and have already done the first three items on your not-to-do list.

    The STDs just went out so we'll see about the response (we did magnets that turned out amazingly). For us (and our families) we're computer savvy and horrible at crafts, so the STDs and website were our chance to be 'crafty' for the wedding. There will be no goccoing, bunting or handmade headpieces at the wedding.

    I am not used to planning something so far out and not seeing the results for so long. I guess that's the downside of being decisive – we planned the wedding in one week over the summer. I think the website, STD and engagement photos gave us a chance to do something tangible for the wedding, which is still so far away :(

  • sam

    That nobody reads the wedding website is so true! I carefully placed all the local info out there… and I don't think a single person read it because like Meg, we got lots of calls.
    My consolation is that I considered my emails with the link to our site as a sufficient Save the Date, so at least it saved us that headache!

  • I wish I could go back in time and recapture the too-many hours I wasted on making a wedding website. That said, at the time I couldn't think of any other way to avoid the old etiquette problem that you're not "supposed to" announce the registry but how else do you let people know about them, and isn't the point of registering that it's polite to let guests know what you want? It's a bit of a catch-22, with the wedding website as one possible solution for this etiquette conundrum.

  • Meg

    Clearly I would not (and did not) take any of this advice either. I was like, "Oh blah blah blah Miss Manners. Theoretically I'm with you on no Save The Dates, but these days you have to do it." Errr… WRONG. But you know what? We all think that because they get posted all over blogs all the time. And I will tell you why: it is an easy post to generate. It's that simple. There are days I wished I did that, because it's so easy. Also? It's misleading.

    My consolation is that one of our friends adored them so much that it is still on her fridge. So. That's nice. But if I had to do it over, I'd cut all this stuff. Not because it wasn't nice stuff, but because the stress/payoff ratio was not a win.

  • Meg

    Except (what I wish I'd known) is everyone asked us or our parents directly about the website. Sigh, it hurt my dignity to put it online, and I didn't need to. (Not that it should hurt your dignity, but for me, ugh.)

  • Chelsea

    Well, that settles it. My agonizing over whether to rent chairs b/c the ones at our venue are not pretty is officially OVER. Ugly chairs, here we come!

    As for the wedding web site, we sent email save the dates recently that directed people to the web site and got lots of great feedback, and traffic. It probably helps that literally every guest is traveling for the wedding, so additional info is necessary. But, I think whether a web site matters depends on how complicated it is to travel to the wedding, and whether you have lots of out of town guests (which we will).

  • What I find most helpful about this post, and ones from other wedding grads, is the perspective of what others have done and how people have reacted to it. Frankly, I thought everyone knew what Save the dates were for and that it was sort of expected. The fact that multiple people have chimed in about guests who had no idea what they were is very helpful. It helps to prioritize things that we may have thought we needed, but didn't necessarily care about. But then at the same time, even if you find out that a MUST HAVE thing for you isn't found all that important by others, it doesn't really matter because it matters to you, so you do it.

  • We are now 7 months away from our wedding…we've chosen our location (a place that may not live up to hip blogging standards, but is gorgeous, logistically nice and has BUNNY RABBITS!!), I've ordered my dress (fingers crossed I still love it when it comes in), picked our officiant (he has a great presence and a deep voice) and our photographer (who i bonded with instantly and at least pretends to laugh at my jokes).

    We've sent out save the dates (elaborate magnets that I designed and we made ourselves) and I have to say they are so far one of my favorite things we've done. They are a redesign of the 1940's poster for "it's a wonderful life" and we've gotten so many compliments on them even from people who have no idea what they are. They make me smile. worth it to me.

    That said….the time and energy we put into them sort of sapped everything out of me and now when i think about putting all of that into invitations and everything else I get exhausted.

    I keep reminding myself it's a marathon, not a sprint and it's all about what we're doing that day…not about monogrammed napkins (also, i hate monogrammed anything.

  • It's good to hear this…very good. I have to keep reminding myself (as the folks around me go crazy about the wedding) that the only thing that matters is that The Mister shows up, my friends & fam show up, and that everyone has fun.

  • This post made me laugh out loud, it came at such an appropriate time :)

    We just sent out our Save the Dates (via email, a slideshow, using "polaroid" photos from the program we found on APW!). We loved making it, and it was free which was a nice bonus, but I think the vast majority of people were thoroughly confused by it :P

    A good number of people thought it was our invitation and have been trying to RSVP online on our website (which is not up and running yet), so I've been fielding frantic emails and calls about how no one can rsvp :P

    So I definitely concur, outside of the wedding world the Save the Date seems to be a pretty foreign concept :P

  • kc

    Ellie's hitchhikers themed Save-the-Dates made me want to reach through the screen and hug her. I'm a nerd.

    STDs are my current crux. I've been splitting split hairs over them for the past month, but I so, so want to make them so I am.

    Also, the poem on your STDs is magnificent.

  • HAHA oh yes. save the dates. I'm so glad you posted about that Meg, and that so many have already chimed in agreeing – we sent an email version, basically a sort of e-postcard that I designed using baby pictures and it said "please save the date" and "formal invitation to follow" and the link to our wedding website. and people. were. confused. Unless they had gotten married in the last 5 years or were planning a wedding right now, they're just like… I don't get it. which I think is just hilarious (also yes a little mortifying that people might think that was our invite!). I had a great time searching through baby pics and designing the thing so I don't care, but if it's not something you want to do, SKIP IT, guilt-free.

    I'm not sure yet about the wedding website. we made one using google sites, paid $10 for our own domain name and it was super fun for me, I like playing around with that kind of crap. Still we're getting questions about where we're registered and what hotel they should stay at and all that.

    it's always a great exercise, thinking and re-thinking the "important things." sometimes I forget to keep evaluating my priorities – thanks for this post!

  • I heartily agree with this post. I spent a lot of time picking out various bottles of wine and most of them are still unopened at home. At the end of the day, people like the beer from Costco. The best part about weddings is seeing all the people you adore in one room and getting to enjoy a constant string of inside jokes and family folklore. Nothing can buy that!

  • Ooo, ooo! Since this had drifted off into STD-hate land, can I make a suggestion? Not based on wedding experience, but as someone who handles a lot of mail?

    I don't know what happens in a post office, and I'm not sure I WANT to know, but fancy envelopes? Linen weave, Stardream, embossed, stickered, decked out in wrap-around mailing labels? Those are the ones that get the most damage. All this holiday season my office got lovely Christmas cards encased in stunning envelopes and almost every damn one of them looked dirty. Or damaged. Or stepped on. (It had a bootprint, I kid you not….) I don't know if postal workers just hate fancy or what, but the cards that looked the least worse for wear were just the plain ones in a regular or occasionally colored envelope.

    Now I'm a paper slut, so there was no way you could have convinced me that my Stardream printed STD's with matching envelope and Xyron sticker'ed labels with emboss-punch corners were not neccessary. I HAD to have them.
    But if you still want STD's, my advice is to spend your money on what's inside the envelope and not out. Because for every hour that you spent making it beautiful, that's the same amount of seconds it takes for the USPS to jack up your hard work.

    Just sayin'.

    Carry on.

  • i HATED thinking about napkins. of course i didn't want paper ones. mostly for the waste. i didn't want to rent them. i didn't want to make them. it stressed me out more than a little bit so i just kept shoving that detail to the back of my mind so i wouldn't have to think about it. but then one of my best friends said her mom would love to make our napkins. which was a lovely gift and harked back to not too long ago days of having our own theatre company when her mom sewed costume pieces for us. and now we have all these lovely (red, white with black polka dots, black with white polka dots, and red and white stripes) napkins that we use every day that are a sweet reminder of the wedding and earth friendly too. i also gave away sets to some of our wedding guests who i knew would appreciate the gesture and use them as well.

  • I stressed so much about STDs because they were the first thing I did. It seems so silly now. Also no one used the website. Barely anyone even read the invitation!

  • STD's, "wedsites" and napkins aren't the only things up for trashing AND praising.

    I personally HATE STD's but it's mostly because if they really want to be a guest, they'll be a guest. I've seen many a bride who has sent out STD's and people STILL double-booked, that's just life!
    I hate napkins too but it's mostly because I want fancy cloth napkins and white tablecloths.

    TABLECLOTHS are a whole separate issue. I got in this state of mind that I would thrift vintage tablecloths to add "texture" to our tables until I realized how much work that really is and I made a classic ESB move and said "EFF THAT"!

    Weddings are like abstract art ladies, some of us like Picasso, some of us like Rothko and some of us really don't like it at all but that's the best part about it, we can do WHAT WE WANT.

    We will have a "wedsite" but it's only because the SO is obsessive about web-design. He's also going to set up a separate e-mail account for "us" and we're going to FORCE people to RSVP over the site. Saves paper, saves my stress of people's RSVP cards getting lost in the mail!

    (sorry for the rant, I get a little carried away sometimes…)

  • Also, the SO wants to make a POSTER invitation in the hopes that they will want to frame it as artwork but really, I don't think that even 50% of the 75 guests will even know what to do with it!

  • Meg

    They totally won't. And the phone calls will be embarrassing.

    The Cousin You Never See: "So… why did you send me a poster of your wedding invitation?"
    You: "Um. Because. Um. It's cute?"
    Cousin: "Oh…. um. Ok. Do you want me to do something with it or something?"
    You: Climbs under the table and hides.

    My suggestion? Do the invite you want, small, then take it to Kinko's and blow up a copy for you guys. And your moms. And then be done with it.

    Maybe the Save The Dates WERE your project? Seriously. If invites make you feel stressed, ditch that sh*t. NO ONE really cares for more than five seconds (even our delighted guests were delighted for 10ish seconds, and I swear to god, our MOTHERS did not even bother to act terrifically excited after we'd slaved over them, so that tells you something), so if you don't care, it's totally not worth it. Besides, there are so many dead easy stylish options now. Dead easy (Achem, left sidebar for tips).

  • @Meg…UH…yeah, I could totally see that happening.

  • Very informative post!

    Our engagements Photos were fun, hilarious,included for *free* in our photo package and were then used for STD Postcards (we used VistaPrint and a coupon) . . . so that wasn't bad at all.

    Hmmm . . . I was also planning making a website and "forcing" guests to RSVP online. My mom didn't like this idea, but we only have two senior citizens attending, I *think* everyone else is pretty web savvy?

    Also, I was thinking of having either a jar of local honey or a donation to a local nonprofit as a favor, but maybe I should skip the honey? I mean, I love honey, but not if it's in 100 different jars.

    Can some more wedding graduates speak up about their own experiences with websites and favors??? This is very curious . . .

  • @Sealicious if you really want to do favors, what about a vial of honey? Just put the honey in a vial with a cork top and a little label on them…but even as I write this I realize it might be more work than it's worth!

    I wanted to do a donation too but it will make ME feel better and really a favor isn't about ME it's about the guest.

    Okay I guess I've been converted by Miss Manners, take me away!!

  • Ellie

    We did Save-the-Dates. We handstamped coasters, and sure enough, our friends who recently got married or are getting married loved them and all the adults in our lives said, "huh?"
    What we stressed over though, wasn't those STDs. It was our alternative STDs. Our wedding is 10-10-10 which is binary for 42, which is the answer to life, the universe, and everything. We love this symbolism, and for our 12 friends who would understand it, we made hitchhikers themed Save-the-Dates. They were totally unnecessary, but they made us so unbelievably giggly and happy that they were 100% worth it.

    We also did engagement pictures. I stressed over what to wear, and hunted for perfect shoes, and wound up wearing tevas and my favorite shirt, and couldn't have cared less about it. We did them at an amusement park though, cuz my FI designs roller coasters, so no bedroom set or mustaches required. I'm really glad we did them, because it changed my mind about hiring an amateur photographer who didn't know how to pose us and didn't have a great sense of lighting or timing, and did almost no post-processing, all things we fixed in our photography hunt. Plus, for $30, I got an awesome set of pictures to make up my desktop background. And we used some for Christmas cards and will probably use others for table numbers.

  • Meg

    But Miss Manners points out that weddings are not a five year olds birthday party. Geusts do not need to be bribed with favors (and yes, donations are nice, but for you not for them… we made one to LAMBDA Legal, but it wasn't a favor).

    Pretty? Yes. Reality? In the trash. If someone handed you a small pot of honey at a party you'd say, "Um. Thanks? Why are you giving me this?" So. Yes. Perspective. Muliple wedding graduates have said that all the favors ended up on the floor or in the trash. Again, no one knows what they are who hasn't gotten married in the last 5 years. We got cookies as favors at my cousins wedding and my dad leaned over and said something like, "Why on earth do we have wrapped up cookies on our plates before dinner?"

    But, take me with a grain of salt. The way favors have been forced on us as totally made up tradition, and the waste they cause, and the STRESS they cause, makes me a little violent. I'm on the record about that. Someone had to be.

  • Meg

    by which I meant I agree and am delighted. Converts! Whee!

  • Biz

    yes yes yes! agreed. i had the most fun during (almost) the whole process because i cared about the flowers and the ceremony. and that everyone had LOTS of fun. i might have gotten side tracked a few times when i picked up a martha stewart or saw some fantastic idea on a blog, but then i'd look at my honey and think, who cares? and he'd say, who cares? and then we got married.

  • Biz

    BUT, that's not to say we didn't have invitations, and a band, and a cake, but just that I didn't stress about it. we just called somebody, or made confirmed, or had tons of fun making it ourselves and went on to the next hole. ;) also, against my wishes, i'm pretty sure that my mom probably stressed enough for every practice bride out there.

  • One last thing, I have to come the realization that picking out the dresses for our attendants (my sister for me, his sisters for him) is actually EASIER than letting them do whatever they want. Who cares if it's not "blog worthy" that the attendants were in all different colors…

    Crazy? YES. Easy? YES.

    Oh, and I sent the miss manners book to FI saying I expect my new engagement ring to be tied up with it.

  • My favorite wedding advice came from my roommate our first year out of college who was planning her wedding and said to me "Um, I'm throwing a giant party for all of these people and buying them each dinner for $50 a person, and I'm supposed to give them a present?"

    I didn't do favors, either! And not one single person commented on my invitations. If I had to do it over again, I'd write everyone a brief little note. Because that would be fun for me.

  • Anonymous

    I skipped the STD and the favors. And I don't think anyone will miss them. The big thing for favors in my area, or at least immediate circle of friends and family, is candy wrapped in tulle and tied with a ribbon. Do I really have time to tie 150 tiny ribbons? Why wouldn't I just pour a huge bag of candy in a dish and serve it during the party? Individually wrapped candies… ridiculous.

    One thing I would add to the list for me personally, and I know a lot of people would disagree, is the wedding blog. It seems to be as common as STDs and wedding web sites now, and I created one because "doesn't everyone want to read about every decision I make for the wedding?" No. Three of my close girl friends read it to support me, but I have no interest in writing my own wedding blog. There's just not that much to say about a 5-hour party happening a year from now. And when it does get closer and things are busy, I don't have time to update it anyway. Again, for me. I enjoy reading other people's wedding blog.

  • I COMPLETELY agree with you on the Save The Dates.

    I designed them myself, printed them as postcards, cut them out, then rounded ALL the corners (because, dear god, how could I send a postcard out with REGULAR corners), and applied vintage stamps.

    A week after I sent them out, my mom called to tell me A) how cute they were, and B) everyone keeps asking her what they are.

    What the f*ck! Waste of time.

  • @Elissa
    We're doing the same thing with our invites – greeting card envelopes are more expensive, so we're using catalog envelopes that come in a bulk pack of 250.

    Love this post – the Boy and I were talking about STDs last night, (even though I didn't even want them to begin with, I somehow got it in my head that it'd be cool to have them) and this kind of put things in perspective. NO ONE in either of our families will have any idea what they are, and we get enough questions from them already without making them more confused.

  • Meghan

    I guess that my best piece of advice is worry and plan and get fussy about things in advance (as long in advance as possible), but once family and friends start rolling into town or preferably weeks before that let the f*** go. Have a beer and enjoy the ride.

  • Meg

    Do you know that writing notes is the MOST PROPER way to invite people to a wedding??? Invites are just an acceptable substitute.

    Man. I feel proud to have converted y'all to Miss Manners. I'm going to pretend it was all me. M'kay?


  • agirl

    I see this post has turned into the STD debate. All I know is, smart girls use protection.

    Seriously, for a wedding where half the guests crossed one or other major ocean, we found that emails, a website, and posting our invitations much earlier than Miss Manners probably says is proper (with a printed info sheet enclosed for all the non-Web 2.0 guests to reference), worked for us. Young 'uns checked out the website, more senior folk peered at the info sheet through their varifocals, everyone and their mother phoned us anyway.

    And re not stressing about unnecessary wedding stuff in general, I found my husband to be vital to protecting my sanity in that area.
    Me: 'Oh look at this ridiculously cute and totally unnecessary detail that is so totally rad and on-trend that I just saw on this blog!'
    Boy: 'Hmmm. Pretty. But will it take only 15mins/cost only a few pennies/hugely add to your wedding happiness?'
    Me: 'No. Nevermind. Thank you.'

    So, use that protection…

  • Such wise women on this post.

    I was about 85% sure we weren't going to do STDs. Now I'm sold.

    Engagement photos? Ehhhh, unless the mister can make a solidly convincing case (he is a photographer), but I don't really want to. We already have a great picture of the proposal. That's enough for me.

    Wedding website? Well, that's one thing that the mister really wants. I told him OK, but it's his project. If he's going to start it, he needs to follow through. If not, then it's not worth the trouble.

  • Tree

    LUHVE this post.

    We've had some trouble because both of our sets of parents didn't have the "wedding of their dreams", and have expectations for our wedding. And it upsets the moms when I tell them, "why would you spend money on that? Why would I spend money on that? It doesn't count, it doesn't matter." But it's true. Those ribbons my mom bought because they had our names on them? They'll be thrown in the trash after the candy is eaten. But she HAD to have them, because it's a wedding. *sigh*

    I've been thinking about this a LOT lately: about the PEOPLE, about the "WE" in wedding. And it's good. :) The party? Well, that's just a bonus for the WE to celebrate. hehehe

  • Marisa-Andrea

    Lol, Meg, great post. We did a wedding website too and it was wickedly cute to everyone for about five minutes. I got an email a year later saying that it would expire. I just sort of shrugged and that was that.

  • Elissa

    Engagement photos? STD postcards? Monogrammed anything? Bah! What is this rubbish, we said.

    Maybe we are busy, maybe we are lazy, but we had a real 'fuck it'attitude to a lot of that particlar breed of wedding things. Such as, we put lots of love into our invitations, but then mailed them in plain, slightly too large envelopes because: a)our invites were an odd size to try and match envelopes to, b)They were cheaper and came in packs of 200, and c)they were still going to make it into the letter boxes, and onto the fridges and pin boards of the people we love. I'm glad we did things that way because it was easy and cheap, but I still have moments when I wish I had been a little more organised and sent them in beautiful, hand stamped envelopes.

    At the end of the day your wedding is going to be like any other major project in your life. You will invest your entire little heart into it and you will fret and fuss over the details that seem most important to you at the time and then, because you are so invested, it will all happen and there will be bits that you don't love. There will be bits that you wish you had cared about more, along with those you wish you'd never thought of, but I bet that on the actual day you won't notice most of them.

    Still, the reflective process a few months after the fact is a good one to go through. Fingers crossed, you won't ever plan another wedding, but there are always unexpected lessons to be learnt. Thanks for sharing yours, Meg.

  • Anonymous

    As far as "favors", what about the old traditon of letting people take home a slice of wedding cake if they want to?

    And if the cake is big enough for leftovers?

  • I'm a little confused–people don't understand "save the date" cards? Really? Maybe it's because I'm in New York and everyone here sends them, but I've never come across someone who didn't understand what "save the date" means.
    We decided to send them because 99% of our guest would need hotel rooms and we wanted to make sure they booked early. The wedding is in a popular tourist area and we didn't want anyone to get stuck. Also my fiance is a graphic designer and therefore in love with paper. :-)

  • We did digital postcards that we emailed as our Save the Dates. It was free because we did it our self with Publisher, and the design we came up with actually ended up being a motif we used for everything in the process, and it was totally worth it for us. And it had the link to our website, so the people who thought it was the invitation started RSVPing THEN. Not a bad result? :) And the cost of our website and Save the Dates…free. :)

  • PS. I was a little surprised that some people were confused by Save the Dates, but I think most of our invitees that thought they were the invitation were also from QuĂŠbec, so I am guessing not too many people do Save the Dates here in QuĂŠbec. :) I think most of our American invitees knew what they were.

  • My hand goes up and I say to the class: I did the STDs! I gave favours! I took engagement photos. But only because I wanted to/they were cheap or free/and because it made sense for us. We had a “destination” wedding where half of our guests flew in so they definitely needed a heads up. Of course, I could have sent an email, but we sent postcards designed by my SIL and handwrote a little “what’s up?”. I don’t know about folks, but I LOVE getting mail! I didn’t stress about favours. Personally, I only like the edible ones and that’s what we gave. Best of all, they were free! And delish. Not one was left over – some people actually ate them at the wedding (we gave away fudge, by the way). But if we couldn’t get anything good, I wouldn’t have given anything. We took engagement photos because I wanted to use them for the STDs + it would give SIL more practice behind the lens + it loosened up the Mr before the big day (he HATES taking pics). I can’t think of the other things that didn’t matter for us, but there were a few, but in the end, I didn’t waste too much energy thinking about the stuff society (and close family members) dictated we needed. And I’m happy we did. If you’re losing sleep about it, or fighting with your intended, IMO, it’s so not worth it. But if it’s the “norm” and you want to do it and it won’t stress you out, I say go for it!

    Thanks for this Meg. 6 months after my own wedding, I’m still loving this site.

  • I got married a month ago, and I can really echo the save-the-date confusion. I forgot to put "formal invitation to follow" on it, and people were like, "Um, what is this?" It was a magnet and half the people didn't even realize it was a magnet! I don't think they HURT anything, but I certainly wouldn't agonize about them. The thing is, if you have people traveling for your wedding, chances are that they're traveling because they're close to you, and you've probably already talked with them in person anyways.

    Also, I can't honestly say how many people used the Web site. I didn't spend a ton of time on it, but one thing that WAS worth it was reserving a hotel block. Everyone still called or emailed me to find out the hotel name and group reservation code, however ;) Again, a Web site is not wasted effort, but I wouldn't call it essential.

    As for my favors, they were simple, but people did enjoy them. We incorporated some of a holiday theme (it was Dec. 5) and the favors were silver ball ornaments with a ribbon with our names on them. They were part of our centerpieces too, so they were "functional" as well, which I think may have even contributed to their being taken home!

    I think the main downfall of all this "you must do this" advice is that it's almost assuming people have to be won over, CONVINCED to attend your wedding, cradled and impressed and convinced to enjoy themselves. I didn't realize how subtle and insidious this sort of message was. Of course, I wanted all the information to be easily available, but people are going to WANT to come, they WANT to have a good time. I've been hearing such nice things about what a good time people had, but almost none of it has to do with the quality of food or drink, the decorations, even the venue itself — it was more of how they felt they were part of our happiness, sharing in the day rather than just witnessing it. I think THAT'S the takeaway.

  • This is so nice to hear, I am 10 days out today and all these little things are our to-dos.

  • Mollie

    Just because I had SO many people telling me it was helpful, I signed up for theknot.com and looked at their Checklist. I've been engaged for a week, nothing has been booked or done yet, and I've just been checking things off that I don't care about. Check! Check! Check! Feels so productive to cut out the crap. And once you do, its not that bad of a tool.


    Look! I'm almost halfway done (even though I haven't yet done anything at all!)

  • Wow, I had a totally different experience with the save the dates. We have gotten feedback from friends our age and especially from older family members that they loved them.

    I think they were well worth it, if only because they allowed me to make sure we had our lists done EARLY and that we had correct addresses for everyone.

  • Amy

    YES. Yes. YES!

    All of this is seriously completely true. I wasted HOURS creating adorable Save the Dates with an old school type writer and library cards. HOURS of my life I won't get back. And people thought they were the invitation, were terribly confused, and didn't even SAVE THE DATE. Seriously. Hassle.

    However, we did take 2 sets of engagement pictures. One was ridiculous and reminds me of senior year pictures as a couple. The other was a surprise for my husband.. I managed to get access to his favorite stadium and we took pictures on the football field. That was fun. But if you don't have something sweet behind it.. they seem ridiculous now.

    Oh, Meg. It's true. 98% of wedding crap is what people think you should do!

  • Anonymous

    I can see both sides of the STD debate.
    My cousin (who's 40) was making fun of the fact that someone sent them a card to say they were going to get an invitation and likened it to the absurdity of a promise ring.

    On the flip side, a friend was getting married this past fall, and I assumed my boy and I would be invited, but they never really brought it up and we never got a STD so I wasn't 100% sure if we were going to be invited. So I didn't want to bring it up to them too much and make them uncomfortable if we didn't make the cut. Before we got the invite, the bride painfully asked "….are you guys going to come?" with a concerned look on her face because we hadn't mentioned it. I was like OF course! Though certainly this could have been solved by the couple letting us know we would be invited.

    I guess I am around a lot of people who aren't clear, because I'm also standing up in my really good friend's wedding, and she never actually ASKED me to be in her wedding, she just said… you girls are going to wear blue!!

    I digress – point is… I think some people now EXPECT save the dates (y'know, us crazies who read wedding blogs all day at our desks instead of doing work) and/or find them helpful. That being said, nothing is worth stressing about – ever, especially if you don't care about it.

  • Meg

    @Anon and others
    If you are not going to do save the dates you DO need to be SUPER clear with people early on that they are invited. Like "have you bought a plane ticket" clear.

    Nope. It's not where you live. Everyone sends them here (and in New York where we lived for a decade too) NOW. But they didn't 10 years ago. So if you haven't been going to tons of weddings in the last 10 years? You're lost. So, I mean, do them. We did. We have them framed. They were really nice. They were not, however, worth it. Or something I would do again. The worst was that older people clearly thought they were ridiculous. Oops. Sigh.

    Just. Wait. There is a special place in hell for the inventors of The Knot checklist. One where they have to feel every pang of anxiety they ever inflicted on brides a month away from their wedding. The wedding planning process early on and the late game are two separate animals. In fact, I was thinking how night and day they were today. Maybe that's a post… early game vs. late game.

  • We're (still) not engaged yet, but since I've been reading this blog for a year, I've decided I will not deal with Save the Dates, engagement photos, expensive rings, an (overly) expensive dress, wedding favors, or an extravagant dinner for our ridiculously large families. And since I hate hassle, knowing that I don't HAVE to deal with these things in the future makes me very, very happy.

  • We got married last October. I'd like to chime in as a "past" bride.
    We had 18 months from engagement to wedding, That is a LONG time. And I went into wedding mode IMMEDIATLEY. Therefore, I'm SO glad we did save the dates, they kept me sane, they were fun to make, and they provided an excuse to visit my MOH who lives about 8 hours from me. She just HAD to help me with them!!

    Wedding website…waste of time, the only person who visited was my MOH…who already knew all the details.

    E-photos…I'm really glad we did these. Our photographers aren't "pose and shoot" photographers, they are much more organic, and while I'm a ham, the Mr. is not. They helped us be more comfortable and provided us with photos which we used in the invitations, and some of the best photos of us ever taken (including the wedding photos). BTW, they were Mark Brooke Photographers. Check em out. :)

    Programs…I needed (re:wanted) to have them. I did NOT need to stamp and emboss 3 different stamps on them, and hand tie ribbon WITH a little charm…ribbon that I has to re-tie and replace on almost half of the 100 programs because the stuff I bought refused to stay tied. They were gorgeous, but unnecessary.

    Choreographed First Dance. It was gorgeous, It was wonderful. But it took hundreds of dollars and countless hours (lessons starting 10 months before the wedding) to get it perfect. And I wasn't able to enjoy the moment of our first dance, I was too busy counting.

    That being said, I LOVED my wedding. It was perfect for us, but it is something I never want to do again. I was a stressed out, grouchy bride at the end there. But I loved every second.

  • Anne

    It's funny to me that we spent a lot of time selecting the music for our wedding mass (or rather, selecting something sufficiently low-key)…and I was so wrapped up in my own world of looking and smiling at my soon-to-be-husband that I only even vaguely remember that there was music playing! We made our own mixes for the dinner, however, which I still enjoy immensely. So that and the way the cake was decorated turned out to be the things that we spent time on but didn't stand out as an integral part of the experience. The cake was freaking delicious, though, which I do remember and continues to be very important!

  • Argh…I have a pile of Save the Dates sitting on my desk right now, waiting to be sent out. I feel sort of embarrassed by your post.

    I too am a big Miss Manners fan and I want to bring up something about life that might have changed. Perhaps many of your guests were in town, Meg? But I spoke with my future mother in law the other day, and it seemed clear that my boyfriend's family was chomping at the bit for hotel info. It's too early to send out invitations, but people need hotel info…thus, Save the Dates and the wedding website. I guess I'll see how it goes. Maybe everyone does think they're ridiculous–I hope not!

    I think about my family and I agree that back when everyone lived in the same village, it was probably easy to be like "Hey, we're getting married in a month!" but Save the Dates do help people figure out that they are (a) invited and (b) where to get hotel info.

  • Honestly, I think you wrote this post for me. Perfectly timed for the point in this crazy process that I am at. THANK YOU! Just what I needed today :)

  • Meg

    90% of our guests were out of town. We just should have CALLED or had our parents call with a specific date and the hotel info.

    That said, don't be embarrassed. I mean, I did them too, and I'm not embarrassed. I just think it ended up being a waste of energy, but not an embarrassment. So the energy is spent, done, don't worry.

    And yes, my big argument for them was that times have changed. Apparently not as much as I thought. Sigh. Eye roll.

  • Love this!! So true and refreshing…as always. :)

  • Anonymous

    We did not have STDs because I was just teling people in advance via phone, in person or facebook.

    We had favours (although I originally did not want it), but it was a great teamwork of me and my now husband.. which is more important than the favours itself.

    I did not have engagement shoots because all I wanted was great wedding pics. Now I've received my pro pics back and I love them. Of course, I still wish that my photographer took specific pictures, etc. But I'm more than happy that I have some nice shots of me and my husband (my faves are the one when we have this natural big laugh).

  • Such a great post! We're getting ready to have our S-the-D's printed. They're just simple postcards with a photo of our feet that we took the day after we got engaged, and some basic info. I think in our case they're going to be pretty helpful – we're getting married on the 4th of July! I'm sure people will still double-book, but maybe not. We're making mix cds to give out as favors, but only because our original plan was to incorporate them into the S-the-D and it's cheaper to just send postcards. Making them favors means we don't have to pay for shipping (and we get to be lazy and not make them yet).

  • Hahaha, that visual of dragging out your bedroom furniture to the middle of a field while donning an Indian headdress for photos is hysterical! And I've totally seen pictures like that and been all, "Hmm I should do that!" And I'm not even getting married!

  • Anonymous

    Regarding Save-the-Dates, we did magnets with a beautiful (and subtle) photo along with the info. We enclosed them with a personal note written to each family/couple.

    Our friends LOVED them. Our relatives were more into the fact they received a hand-written note informing them of the wedding info. Many called to let us know how touched they were to receive a note. So looking back, maybe hand-written notes were the way to go.

    And no one has been confused so far as to the purpose of the STD…..

  • I love this. We didn't get any confusion about our StDs, but the one thing I'm hearing over and over is "Yup, already had it on my calendar." erg.

    I have this idea that of course everyone will use my website to find the info! Of course, I looked at my sister's once before her wedding. And I have had a lot of people have trouble typing in the address correctly to get to it. ::sigh::
    What else is more time sucker than useful? Do people really care about the decor? The table decorations? The flowers or lack of them?

  • Michelle

    Stamped wine glass rings, stamped napkins, hand-made programs — not worth the trouble. I wish I had sent an invitation that ONLY had our names, the date, maybe a pretty picture and the website. Then maybe someone would have used it. Eh, oh well.

  • K

    I’ve been chattering on about our wedding with friends (not unsolicited discussions, they ask) and everyone seems so tentative. I thought they weren’t happy or didn’t like the idea of driving five hours and staying two nights or more and then it hit me that they haven’t actually been told that they’re invited yet, so they’re just not being presumptuous! What good friends! That said, that is how we’ll go about telling people to save the date. I love the comment about STD being like a promise ring! I never understood why you wouldn’t just send the invitation.