You Don’t Have To Buy All The Things

I got this excellent email from the now happily married Jessica two weeks ago. I couldn’t let such a good thank you note to all of you, about what we crack on about every day, lie unpublished. So, All The Things, consider yourself on notice:

My wedding is a week from today. I was running around today feeling consumed by WIC-promoted Consumerism… thinking, Oh My God, I need to buy a new dress for my rehearsal dinner and new shoes and we should buy everyone in the wedding party more stuff to thank them and what about a cute hanger, don’t I need a cute hanger for my dress?! And, and, and….

Anyway, all of a sudden I had a moment of clarity. I turned to my fiancé, who was looking (rightfully) frightened, god bless him, and said, “We don’t need All The Things.” We already have All The Things that matter.

We hugged and went home. We’re about to enjoy a nice bottle of wine.

All in all, my fiancé, our bank account, and I thank you, Team Practical.

P.S. When I emailed Jessica to ask if her wedding survived no cute hanger, she said, “It sure did.  As did the filthy dress (thanks to amazing second line through NOLA’s French quarter). It’s funny how the joy is the only detail that matters…” Wedding Graduate post coming soon.

Photo by Emily Takes Photos

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  • Such a tease. This was clearly a ploy so that I would clamber and say, “I want to see the wedding with the Second Line!” ;)

    So … Wordless Wedding with a Second Line?! Pretty Please?

    • meg

      Not a ploy, it’s coming. She just got married something like 8 days ago, so she doesn’t have a single picture yet.

      • Oh! She’s a Wedding Twin, which makes that even better. :D

    • Noemi

      I just had to Google “second line.” How exciting!

  • Excellent post. Just what I needed today. I’m stressed about other things and channelling all of that into thinking we need all the things for the wedding (and therefore trying to sacrafice the bacon sandwiches M really wants for prosecco for the toast as I got tricked into thinking that’s what we need). We are closing the deal with the venue in the next few weeks and I got so caught up in ALL THE THINGS that I forgot what we were excited about (and one of those things is bacon sandwiches – I can only eat pork rarely these days so I’m going to make sure one of those days is my wedding day!).

    Sorry for the long parenthesis and, once more THANK YOU

    (one more – the best wedding I went to recently, we all just toasted with whatever we had in our hands at the time and it was perfect as everyone felt the love in the room so no one cared what they were toasting WITH just that we wanted to cheer the couple we loved on their day, this reminded me of that so once more – THANK YOU)

    • Lizzie

      Yup. I think my moment of liberation from All The Things was when our caterer asked us if we were doing a champagne toast and the two of us looked at each, blinked a few times as we processed the idea that – duh – champagne was not required for a toast and neither of us really likes it anyway, and then turned back to our caterer and answered “no” in unison.

      Tonight at dinner I will propose a toast to all of you with a glass of whiskey.

    • Emily

      Exactly! We figure the important part is the toasting, not the champagne, as well.

  • I was strong about not needing ALL THE THINGS up until close to the end. But in the last week or so I succumbed. My bank account is still recovering.

    • That’s what I’m afraid of, a little. I am a stress shopper, and I’m a little afraid that in the last few weeks I might just start throwing money around rather than really thinking about my purchases.

  • Oh, All The Things. How tempting you are. I remember running around in Target in Hawaii two days before the wedding and being like “how awesome would postcards with individualized notes be” and “oh … bubbles!!!” and “how about this $2 limbo stick?!?”

    Then I turned around to see Aussie and two of his mates looking at me like I’d just been infected by a bridezilla/zombie/three-headed-monster mix. It worked to snap me straight out of there.

    We did however get some cheap fireworks for the boys to play with.

    • The limbo stick just made me laugh, remembering that people at our wedding had an impromptu limbo with a necktie (maybe even the DJ’s tie??), because they wanted to do some limbo, while everyone else was dancing. Weddings can be awesome like that! Even without limbo sticks.

      It can be so hard to fight the urges to get all the things, though it helped when The Kn*t emailed me daily about monogrammed EVERYTHING and I realized how silly it was. So many of those things are forgotten, too, the day of. I found our guest book sitting on the mantel the next day – we’d totally forgotten to put it out in the craziness of everything else we had going on. And it so didn’t matter.

      • In hindsight, I’m happy I didn’t get the limbo stick, as no one even played our rad glow-in-the-dark bocce ball. They were too busy with impromptu karaoke and the open bar.

    • I totally used my fiance as a reality check with things like this. Unfortunately, the truth is that women are far more overwhelmed by the Buy All The Things pressure than men are, so he was better able to tell me what was completely ridiculous.

      • ElisabethJoanne

        Maybe in general, but my future husband has been the one with, “Why don’t we have a dessert in addition to cake?” “We have to have a cake topper” “Suits for the groomsmen aren’t formal enough” “Let’s have escort cards” “What about a videographer?”
        With my parents paying, I have to tamp down my resentment with each suggestion that we must Buy A Thing.

        /end rant [for now]

  • Oh, man. As a former bridal registry consultant, I would LOVE to write a post about how the WIC wants you to buy all the things. Or at least register for all the things.

    • meg

      We would love you to WRITE THAT POST! Whadda we gotta do?

      • I just thought since I already wrote two posts and alll…

        Okay, well, never mind, I’m on it!

        • meg

          There is no max number of posts you can write, if they are awesome. DUH!

    • Cass

      When I registered, it was at the height of the recession, so all the stores were trying to promote their expensive items “If you just register for $X of brand Y, you’ll get $Z automatically!”
      Why? I didn’t particularly like brand Y most of the time.

    • Amy

      I thought the wedding registry pressure was bad. Then I got pregnant. The baby registry is all the worse because OMG, what if I don’t register for all.the.things. and its something the baby really needs and I just didn’t know? Or what if I chose the brand that the baby inexplicably hates! Sigh. Things are not being helped by the grandparents who also loooove to buy all the things ever plus some.

      • Mary B.

        Oh god. The baby registry. We were told we had to register for everything we would ever “need” for the first two years. Nevermind the fact that we live in a small apartment and I have no desire to keep an exersaucer, swing, bouncer, and who knows what else around the apartment just because some Babies R Us consultant told me I had to have it. We ended up ditching our registry and created a wish-list for family members…who all seem to hate this very much. It sucks. They can’t quite understand why we don’t want all the things (or why we want some things instead of others). At least the bridal registry lady left us alone.

    • We registered in one store and that was enough. The rest of our registry was done on-line (where we registered for, and got, the DVD of “Up”!). However the guy who walked us through BBB is now a “hero” of my husband. Anyone who can so nonchalantly talk about how he financed his vacuum and can’t understand that a quilter doesn’t need to register for a duvet deserves some kind of recognition, right?

    • Emily

      DO IT!

  • Cass

    I actually did buy a new dress for my rehearsal dinner, but ended up wearing a old and comfortable (but still adorable) dress.
    So now I’m stuck with a cocktail dress I’m not sure when I’ll wear.

    • meg

      There is ALWAYS an excuse to wear a cocktail dress. At least in my head. Or, you know, make an excuse (funnn).

    • Isn’t just because you feel like it and it makes you feel pretty a good enough reason for a cocktail dress?

    • I bought a new dress for the rehearsal that I am just now returning this week. I ended up wearing an adorable $3 skirt from Goodwill that was so damn cute and so perfect, I don’t even mind the extra trip to return that Thing I Had To Have.

  • Dear lord yes. I actually got into a fight with my mom recently about honeymoon attire. She asked what I was bringing, and I told her that I was mostly taking the summer clothes she’d seen me in the last few months. She said, “Well I guess it wasn’t important enough to you to get new stuff.” I was kind of stunned and made a sharp comment about having neither time nor money to get all new stuff and said I had to go. Later she called back to apologize and we talked about it. Mostly she felt bad because she wanted me to have pretty, fun new things for the honeymoon. I explained that I didn’t really care if my shorts had been worn a few times (they’re still nice shorts!); I was just excited about spending quality time with my husband-to-be. I think she got wrapped up in “all the things” and it ended up hurting both of us.

    • Mimi

      Oh man. The number of fights I had with my mom over All The Things… at one point she threatened to show up in jeans to the ceremony because I wasn’t planning to decorate the chapel. “If there are no flowers in the church, what’s the point of dressing up?” is one of the All The Things-crazed sentences that came out of her mouth during wedding planning.

      I felt like a complete narcissist for thinking this, but guess what? A happy bride is decoration enough for the chapel. But in the end, 7 days before the wedding, I did order a $35 arrangement from the grocery store florist to keep everyone (including my wallet) happy. I learned that compromises are okay, and if it costs $35 to shut everyone up and keep me from strangling well-meaning parents and relatives, that was money well spent.

      • “A happy bride is decoration enough for the chapel.”

        Yes yes yes. And and I definitely agree with you that sometimes, it’s less about the cost of flowers than it is about the cost of keeping everyone sane. (If $35 of flowers will keep the peace, then they’re well worth it!) A lot of the time, I think the concerns of having All The Things stems from worry that things won’t look “appropriate” or that it should be important somehow. But like you said, the best decoration is a couple/their guests having fun and feeling the love.

        • Mimi

          We definitely had a hard time agreeing on the line between “guest comfort” and “pretty things,” but everything worked out and we had the time of our lives. Our attire and decorations were simple, but still nice enough to look “wedding-appropriate” to our parents, not like we had just thrown a candle on each table and called it a day.

          My parents thought it was funny that I had fun at my own wedding – apparently that wasn’t part of their cultural paradigm. I’m just glad APW taught me to calm the f’ down and enjoy the day!

    • I bet her attitude harks back to the tradition of a wedding trousseau, which used to be very important for the bride to bring to the new marriage and determined how serious she was about making her husband happy. Imagine being judged whether you prepared for your new marriage by acquiring things. I’m glad that preparing for a marriage can now mean talking about the life you want to lead and not buying stuff.

    • ElisabethJoanne

      So far, the only thing Mom insists they need, that we insist they don’t, is new clothes. At least it’s not something I have to decide on or pay for…

  • Sveta

    I got married three days ago (something I had to think about because it seems so recent yet so far away), but this post still rings very true. We eliminated so many things in our wedding that we just didn’t find necessary, and the wedding was still awesome. Still, I’m left with extra candles, old books & paperweights that we used for centerpieces – stuff that I’d love to pass on to someone else. I wish APW had a forum or a message board! :)

    Oh, and at our wedding, someone made a limbo stick out of a feather boa.

    • Claire

      APW forums would be great!! Or even a classifieds section…

  • My wedding is still 10 months away. Type-A house that we have, we’ve planned as much as we can for the time being until we get a lot better idea of who is planning on coming to our destination shindig. In the meantime, I’ve totally found myself wanting to buy All The Things that I know we don’t want or need because I want to plan for this wedding.

    My solution? Taking that money and going somewhere (usually just for a walk around the block) with the guy I’m going to have a marriage with.

    (I still want all the things.)

    But I’m still saying, “No.” (Helps when F. looks at me and says, “WTF is that?”)

  • Beth

    Thank you so much for sharing today. I started my wedding planning with the very best of intentions (I read “One Perfect Day” the month we got engaged), but have struggled immensely, and I must admit at times have gotten sucked into the vortex of thinking I need “all the things.” I caught myself looking online for the cute hanger last week. Fortunately, I am blessed with a very rational fiance and reasonable friends and family, who gently help keep me grounded when I become overly concerned with the details. I try to remember that flowers, linens, etc are all very nice and enjoyable things, but that they really will not impact the important part– our marriage. Thank you not only for your honest and funny post about overcoming it, but also for validating how easy it is to become overwhelmed by the WIC driven “you need this for a perfect wedding!” without even realizing it. Unfortunately, “you need all the things” is a pretty pervasive message throughout our society. I try to remember a great quote I came across recently: “The secret to having it all is believing that you already do.”
    P.S. congrats on your marriage!

    • I was recently picking out the color of our linens for the wedding (we don’t have “wedding colors” so there was no obvious choice), when I realized that with all the weddings I had attended, I do not remember the linen color or the types of chairs we sat on, or the centerpieces AT ALL. So then I just picked the color that I liked best at that particular moment (which doesn’t match much else in our decor), making it one of the easiest wedding decisions ever.

  • Emily

    I need to know where that adorable cake topper came from! I don’t have a lot of “All The Things”- just a simple wedding in our back yard in the spring with champagne, appetizers, desserts and our favorite people in the whole world. But I sure would like that cake topper!

    • Amy

      It looks like a willow tree figure, my mom’s family collects them. I think they’re available at most gifty/card type stores.

    • It is a Willow Tree. We actually bought one for us after our wedding because one of our favorite wedding photos had us in pretty much that exact same pose. It was meant to be.

  • Alicia

    Awesome reminder. I was writing a list of things not to forget during an incredibly boring meeting today and had a mini-freakout. Luckily, the nerds in the meeting just figured I found the subject matter really interesting.

    Next task: trimming the to-do list.

  • Oh, man. Let me just say AMEN to this post. I have actually been working on a similar post for my own personal wedding planning blog, but haven’t been able to sort out my rage in a cohesive way. I went to a bridal expo this weekend which kicked it up to a new level. They gave me a sticker to wear that said “V.I.B.” SO. MUCH. WIC. RAGE.

  • I would like to add that this post is incredibly timely on the day that Kim Kardashian is filing for divorce 72 days after her multi-million-dollar wedding. If your relationship is real and honest, All The Things will not make your marriage any better. If your relationship is not real and honest, All The Things will not make your marriage any better.


    This is my new mantra, just in every day life. Are you offering me this “deal” just so I’ll buy all the things? Are you telling me A is better than B just because A involves more of the things? well
    Sorry, All The Things. We Will No Longer Be Needing You.

  • Denzi

    I’ll admit that I succumbed to a tiny bit of All The Things. (Usually, my cure for it is to put it on my Amazon wishlist and then ignore it for three months. It’s amazing what you no longer desperately want when you come back to it three months later.) But since it is “I think it might help me stress out less if I bought some gaming miniatures to paint, since I have been doing ALL LOGISTICS ALL THE TIME for this wedding and would like to do something stupid and crafty that doesn’t require fraught decision-making or the use of spreadsheets, and if I can paint them in time to make them surprise cake toppers which Tom will love, so much the better,” I think I’m doing pretty well.

  • I just have to say “Ha!” on the hanger. I probably should’ve thought of something a bit better than a garbage bag and an old sheet all pinned up with about 10 safety pins to get my dresses to our wedding. Oops. But they worked.

    • I’m a fan of the garbage bag! As a recipient of The Hanger as a bridesmaid, I can tell you, it’s one of The Things I can do without for the rest of my life. My closet and I had a long heart-to-heart, and it told me with 100% honesty (I made it pinky swear) that it does not care what kind of hangers I use.

      So, other Linsey…if you happen to be lusting after a hanger with our name on it, I’ll gladly gift it to you! ;)

      • I need to have more heart-to-hearts with my closet. Maybe then it would stop hiding things from me.

  • Kess

    Please tell me I’m not the only one thinking about hyperbole and a half meme that’s been going around for a while…

    Maybe someone should make one with a veil on saying “Buy ALL the things!” and the one saying “Buy all the things??”

    If you’ve never read this, check it out, it’s fantastic.

    • Hyperbole and a Half is my fave. I want an Alot as a pet.

    • I immediately thought of Hyperbole and a Half as well! And had that idea of making one with a veil. XD Great minds think alike!

    • Mimi

      Know Your Meme claims that comic is the origin of the phrase! I’m a huge fan of Hyperbole and a Half… can’t wait for the book. I don’t need All The Things, but that book will be one of the Things I need.

    • charmcityvixen

      CLEAN ALL THE THINGS was my facebook picture for a long time… and the Alot was my FH’s :)

    • meg

      I mean, I’m directly referencing that meme, so I hope you’re not the only one thinking about it.

  • I love this post. The thing that no one tells you (because it will make the entire wedding industry go into a revolt) is that all the things you spend days, weeks or even months obsessing over really don’t matter that much at the end (if at all).

    In hindsight, the single biggest regret I have is all the time I’ve lost on things that really DID NOT matter at the end (table center piece, napkins, flowers, decorations, etc.) I wish I had just enjoyed the getting married bit more.

    I also regret feeling badly when I’d shyly tell a vendor my budget was “only” $_____. No one should make you feel badly about your budget. After all, in case you haven’t noticed, we’re in some shitty economic times. Also, there is a long life after the big W day and you have to deal with things like buying a home, having kids, changing or losing jobs, etc.

    • “No one should make you feel badly about your budget.”


      A vendor that gives you attitude about your budget is not someone that deserves a piece of it.

  • If only every Bride-to-be read this site! I’m pretty sure there are a fair number of Brides who think the cute hanger spelling out their new last name is an absolute must. I, too, am very grateful for APW sanity in the months leading to my wedding!!

  • Anne

    Wow — I hadn’t even thought about getting a cute hanger…

    Seriously, though, I think this is difficult even for those of us who normally don’t lust after All The Things. Particularly when you’re trying to tell your parents/your fiancé’s parents that you don’t need them. Figuring out which things MIGHT be important enough to care about is still tricky, though.

  • I saw some Cute Hangers on Etsy. They are a cute and creative idea, and for a while I thought I “needed” one. But, of course, cute hangers are not a necessity!

    • KEA1

      not to mention that I’ve heard the cute hangers are good for about two photos’ worth of actual dress-hanging before they buckle under the weight of the dress…

  • Mary B.

    Our wedding gave the finger to All The Things. Some thing were easy to let go (like new clothes, I already own some rocking dresses and accessories, thankyouverymuch), but other things? I wanted the cute little cake topper, the bunting, the bubbles, special welcome bags for all our guests from the Maritimes, the special wedding hanger, the photobooth…it was hard to let go of those things, but we did. And our wedding was pretty awesome without them.

  • Emily

    The closer it gets to our wedding the more I want all the things…because I feel competitive! It is the worst thing, I feel like such a jerk. My fiance’s best friend is getting married 4 months after us, and I’m already feeling like decisions we’ve made mainly to save money because we figured those details were unimportant are things I’m going to regret because their beautiful, expensive wedding will make me think about “all the things we could’ve had, if we’d cared about things looking nice”. Argh! It’s so stupid. And while probably a few people ARE going to compare ours to theirs negatively, nobody’s going to think that means our MARRIAGE is less valid, and WE will know it’s not.

    I know that, really I do, but I just keep feeling these twinges of regret when I’m making more #$@#$ origami flowers for my bouquet, it’s a lot of work and I don’t really like how they’re turning out, and when I find out the friends have been interviewing multiple florists, I really just want to go to Whole Foods and order some stuff. For example.

    So even when you know, deep down, whats’ important, how do you squash feeling inadequate about unimportant stuff anyway?

    • Mimi

      I totally understand how this feels. My husband’s old roommate got married a month after we did, so even while insisting that we didn’t have to have X or Y, I felt that little bug of competitiveness whispering, “But you know THEY’RE having 175 people, and it’s going to be SUPER NICE, and you’ll feel like a cheap idiot!”

      I think you just have to make a conscious decision to draw a line somewhere. Pick what’s important to you and resolve not to care about the rest, because I promise you, the week after your wedding you won’t be thinking “I wish I had used ivory ribbon instead of white, it TOTALLY didn’t match!” and instead will be thinking back to how much fun it was to have everyone you love hang out and party with you.

      Oh, and speaking from experience, grocery store florists are so underrated. I got the most amazing floral arrangement, which I sent home with my best friend, and she told me it lasted over two weeks in her house. It made everybody happy, and nobody had to know it cost $35 at Safeway.

  • Amanda

    Resisting the urge to buy wedding crap is easier when I can’t find anything affordable that’s not completely tacky. I am now focusing on using or borrowing “wedding accessories” like cake knives and toasting glasses. I spent about 10 hours trying to find a cake topper that my fiancee and I liked, and then decided that a heirloom tsochkie would be cuter and free. (It’s a figureine of a sea monster in a couple of different pieces, so it looks like it’s swimming through whatever it’s set on. The only reason it wasn’t my first choice is that there weren’t two of them. Who cares? I made a little painted heart with our initials that the sea monster gets to wear. Done.)

  • Lindsay

    Oh my goodness! I feel like my mom keeps pressuring me to do/buy All the Things for our wedding/honeymoon/apartment. I know she just is excited for me and all, but it drives me crazy. First – I am living at home, I was basically unemployed for two year. Second, my fiance is coming to live here from another country, so I will have to support him for awhile until he can get a job/his english is up to speed for that. I’ve told her a don’t know how we are going to afford a wedding; she knows I’ve been trying to save a lot, but still am far from what we would need, and my parents are in bad financial shape, too, so they really can’t help with anything. Which is FINE, I don’t want them to, but it drives me nuts when in the same breath as I say I don’t know how we’re going to pay for a wedding, she comes up with another thing to buy.

    “But you aren’t going to have ANY flowers?” “Oh, you really should go to your friend’s wedding in Mexico that will cost $1200 to go” “What are you going to do without a couch in your apartment??” “But $500 really isn’t that much for a wedding dress!”

    I am going to scream!! And of course if I say anything, I am the bad guy!

  • so, i’ve been thinking a lot about this post as i’ve been reading other wedding blogs, etc and thinking that in additon to not needing to BUY ALL THE THINGS, it needs to be known that: “you don’t need to MAKE ALL THE THINGS”. i can’t even begin to express the amount of pressure i felt in planning our wedding. i mean, if you have the talent and the time and the ability to make all of the decoration details for your wedding, i salute you, but not everyone does. and not everyone should feel like they have to immediately learn how, or else their wedding won’t be *cool* enough… i recently read this post on another *well-known* (i guess…) wedding blog about this couple that literally built an ampitheater in their parents back yard, put a kitchen in the basement for their caterer, hand-made all of the decorations, etc and i felt so overwhelmed just reading that post! and i’m all done planning my wedding! that’s craziness!

    yes, we made a few things and yes, we had fun doing them. but you DON’T NEED TO MAKE all your centerpieces, seating cards, lanterns, invitations, dress, jewelry, etc! and you don’t need to have FAMILY MEMBERS who can MAKE ALL THE THINGS for you!
    your wedding day will be awesome, regardless :)

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  • I liked this post a lot. It reminds us all of what is really important. When planing a wedding make a budget and stick with it. Prioritize the things that mean the most to you. Take it from me, I have been married for almost 6 years now and the thing that I remember most about our wedding now, was my husbands face as I walked down the aisle not the dress hanger or my shoes.

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  • Nice sharing :)
    i already feel like Jessica but I need to calm down a little bit. I will continue reading your articles because I think you can help me :)