Zen: Adventures In Wedding Land

I’ve been a bride-to-be for more than a year, and I’m still not much good at it. You’d think I’d’ve improved with practice, but the terrain of Wedding Land still reserves a multitude of mysteries and surprises.

Take the gift registry. How do you do a gift registry? I’d never personally encountered one in real life before; back home we give angpow (red packets with money inside) and consider that sorted. But a gift registry would make Cephas’s relatives’ lives easier and so a gift registry we must have.

Cephas and I wandered around a department store wielding an ineffectual scanner, bewildered by the huge range of china, cookware, irons, yoghurt makers—I bet you didn’t know John Lewis sold machines with which you can make your own yoghurt at home, but now you do.

We’re even in the slightly unusual position of actually needing a lot of this stuff, as we don’t live together and will need to set up a new household with plates and forks and all the various other necessaries. That made it a little easier—we would register for things we needed, that we would otherwise have to buy ourselves after moving in together.

But people like buying you things you wouldn’t buy for yourself, Cephas’s mum pointed out. So we should choose something frivolous! Cephas went for a beer glass. (Cephas isn’t great at frivolous. I once emailed him while in the grip of a Youda Sushi Chef craze—if you haven’t heard of it, it’s a gloriously mindless PopCap game where you make imaginary sushi by furiously clicking your mouse—and he replied: “I also am in the grip of a craze, an Armenian devotional music and literature craze. It’s far out.”)

I’ve always wanted an ice cream maker. But I found myself contemplating the only type of ice cream maker on display and wondering if it wouldn’t be better to just take down the model number and check out the price on Amazon. If I’m not willing to pay that price for it myself, wouldn’t it be rude to ask my guests to?

We came away with a sternly responsible gift list, the sort of gift list that flosses its teeth every night and always sorts its rubbish for recycling. I’m not sure I’d want to shop the gift list myself, if I were a guest. I’d probably get bored and go off-list and buy the couple a set of placemats with elephants on them.

But figuring out the registry was nothing compared to sorting out flowers. Who knew flowers were so complicated? I hadn’t made any deliberate plan to skip flowers, but I hadn’t thought much about planning to have them either. I suppose if you’d asked me how I was going to ensure the presence of flowers, I would’ve suggested sending out some willing wedding minion to the nearest supermarket on the day to get whatever bouquets they had there. (This is actually one of the options for DIYing your wedding flowers that Meg suggests in the book. It appealed because it’s pretty nearly the laziest option!)

And if that turned out to be too difficult, then I was secretly attracted to the idea of doing it the old-fashioned way—apparently the bridal bouquet only emerged as a Thing around the turn of the twentieth century, and before that brides held prayer books or handkerchiefs. (Another factoid from the book!) I liked the idea of bringing a book along—good for those lulls during the service.

But in all this horticultural non-planning I’d failed to consider one big question: what about the flowers in the church?

Here are the botanical decoration options available in the church where Cephas and I are getting Catholically married:

  • Large pedestals heaped with flowers
  • Small pedestals heaped with flowers
  • Candelabra pedestals heaped with flowers and candles
  • Flowers on the pew ends
  • Bows on the pew ends
  • Flowers and bows on the pew ends
  • Flowers on the lectern
  • Flowers on the pillars
  • Flowers under the altar
  • Flowers at the base of the statues
  • Small topiary trees

Did I want flowers on the end of every pew, or every other pew, or every third pew? Did I want flowers in the traditional style, or the modern? What was a lectern anyway? Of course the very helpful flower lady asked me all the questions because, after all, I’m the bride! I’m supposed to have opinions about these things.

I was so embarrassed by my total lack of any relevant opinions that I didn’t even broach the possibility of elephant topiaries. Fortunately, Cephas took over, and the flower lady eventually figured out that the opinion leader in the group was not me.

Mind you, I don’t lack for opinions in general. I have plenty of opinions about lots of different things! But in Wedding Land it’s hard to tell what’s an opinion you need in order to be appropriately bridely (e.g. what sort of flowers do you want?), and what kinds of opinions will just make you a pain in the ass (e.g. I don’t want anyone to give me away because I don’t belong to anyone).

But I’d better formulate some of the right kind of opinions, because despite my mad dreams of picking up a couple of gerberas from Tesco’s on the morning of, I find myself booked in for a phone consultation with a florist about bouquets and buttonholes. Day 440 in Wedding Land: still not sure what’s going on, but if I keep repeating “purple and pale pink” over and over again, maybe I’ll make it through unscathed. Wish me luck.

Photo by: Moodeous Photography

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  • PA

    Ah, flower embarrassment. Mine came up during the centerpiece discussion, with a very helpful lady we’ll call Jan. It went something like this:

    “Which shape of vase do you want?” Jan had a large collection of differently-shaped vases.
    “That one,” I said. “That way, we can put a big flower in each of them. Like a chrysanthemum, maybe.”
    “What color of chrysanthemum?” She asked, pen poised.
    “Um. Pink, maybe? Well, they could be all different colors. Whatever we find in the shops, really. They don’t even all have to be Chrysanthemums.” Jan blinked at me.
    “But what color do you want the flowers to be, to match things?” she asked.

    And round and round it went! Good times.

    Also, elephant topiaries? YES, PLEASE.

    • MDBethann

      My answer was, I don’t need things to match, I’m going with a garden theme. I just don’t want them to clash with the bright blue dresses the bridesmaids are wearing. You’re the flower artist – do your stuff.

      I also used the “your the artist” line on the baker too :-)

      • PA

        Hahaha, I totally would have – but this is a family friend who has offered her own materials to make centerpieces for free, so the dynamic is somewhat different.

        People seem strangely insistent that I should have wedding colors. It’s been weird.

        • Laura

          The whole “wedding color” obsession blows my mind too! If you have colors, great, but if not, doesn’t that make both vendors’ and planners’ lives easier? You don’t have to worry about a particular shade of puce or whatever – just make something pretty/cool/interesting/functional/whatever-matters-to-you!

          • PA

            I am fully on board with making things go together and look nice, but honestly! I chose two pre-decorated venues so that I could be free of that!

            I shouldn’t complain, though – I know that if I had chosen colors, I would be hearing, “…really? Those two colors?” from people. And that would annoy me no end.

          • Megan (from Nova Scotia)

            There is something to be said for having colors picked out. Some colors do clash horribly. But really, it shouldn’t be a BIG DEAL. First question I get is about the dress, second question is very often about the colors

          • Laura

            LOL, PA. Ditto on that. And ditto on the pre-decorated (or, so awesome it doesn’t really need to be decorated) venue.

            And I also agree that, if you are minded as such, working to create your own aesthetic vision can be fun and rewarding. But you don’t *have* to be that way! It’s frustrating when people assume that you have a grand design plan, with all the details like color palette, in mind. I think it’s totally fine to care more about having an, e.g., “fun” and “love-filled” wedding than a purple or white one.

            And if I have to give specifications on the appearance, I personally prefer to say words like “simple,” “natural,” and, gosh, I don’t know, “lake-ish” than, for instance, “brown, green, and grey” (i.e. approximately the colors of a lake). Like you said, most people would probably think, “really… those colors??”

          • Sarah

            We finally picked wedding color families (blue and green) because all colors of blue look good with each other and all colors of green, and vice versa. But this still seems to puzzle people. It’s not navy and kelly green? It’s not slate blue and chartreuse? What if the blues are slightly different???????

      • Hannah

        Brilliant. If I was the baker/florist, I’d be flattered and excited to let my creativity run free…you probably get the coolest stuff that way too.

        • MDBethann

          You’d think so, right? But I think many vendors are so used to having the bride dictate things that they don’t know what to do when she doesn’t dictate it. But that helped me decide which florist to pick and she was great. The baker was easy – the first one we visited was creative and had delicious cake, so we didn’t need to try another one (though I think the cake tasting was the part I was looking forward to the most!!).

    • That’s exactly what a flower discussion with me would be! Thus, flowers are not my department. (But apparently they’re a must-have to Bunny. So he gets to sort it out.)

  • The nice thing about wedding professionals, good ones, is that they know what to do with you if you say, “I don’t know squat about flowers”. In fact, I think they like it. All I knew I wanted was fall colors and hypericum berries. My florist suggested everything else, it was amazing, and it was cheap that way too, since I said “this is our budget, these are my colors, have fun!”

    Otherwise, I highly recommend checking out a couple of flower books from the local libraries, just so you have a sense of what flowers come in purple and pale pink, or just wandering through a local flower market/grocery store and reading the labels of the flowers you like. But purple and pale pink? Sounds like roses and maybe some carnations and lillies to me.

    • Zen

      My plan is to shove it off on someone who knows what they’re doing as soon as I can, yes! I am the most DIYless bride ever.

  • “…back home we give angpow (red packets with money inside) and consider that sorted.”
    Growing up in a Chinese family, I know this all too well! I felt the same way about registering!! My husband and I kept saying “well, we can just buy that ourselves” and it was really hard to pick things without feeling like we were being pretentious or rude. Until one my friends who happened to work at the store we registered at said “Stop! Your guests are more than happy to get you these things! Some of them will want to get you two or three things!”

    Coming from a bride who is now in Post Wedding- after all that hard work and decision making for the wedding, its a wonderful thing to open all your gifts and they happen to be exactly what you want, because you picked them out. And if you decide you hate all of your new stemware, take them back and by yourself some shoes… like I did:)

    • ohno oto

      Seconded. I haven’t even broached the registry yet (T minus 2 years …), but most of my Taiwanese family will ignore the registry. We’ve been living together for nearly 3 years now, so there’s very little we need. What we really want is for people to help us pay for the party … or a really great pair of shoes post-wedding!

      After reading Meg’s section on the registry in the book (also available from independent booksellers, btw), I’ve decided to view it as a way for people who love us to help chip in for what we want to pay for most – the celebration.

  • This could not have been better timing. I was just sitting here realizing that I didn’t have any plan for flowers and was frantically Googling DIY not-too-involved, not-too-expensive ideas.

    My original plan was growing my own out of native wildflowers (how crunchy granola of me!) but realized that goldenrod is a major allergen to some of my bridesmaids, those beautiful lacy flowers that grow along the side of the road are hosts to chiggers and other unpleasant buggies, and that by late June in North Carolina, most of the beautiful, long-stemmed spring flowers have withered away or been reduced to ash by the scorching sun. Couple that with an outdoor reception and all of our flowers will have disintegrated by dinner.

    Anyway, I’m leaning toward bulk Costco hydrangeas. They’re vaguely native to the state, huge and bushy enough that a few stems will make up a decent bouquet, and cost-effective. Or I could go the supermarket route.

    I haven’t even begun to consider the registry, which we have to get crackin’ on, since the save-the-dates are about to go out for out-of-towners and then right around the corner is invitation and shower season (oh, the dread). We are also in the strange position of needing to merge two separate lives in a world where many people already live together before marriage. I even live at home at the moment, so I have very little of “my own.” And he isn’t exactly mister domestic, so he mooches his plates and cookware off of his generous and infinitely patient roommates.

    So thank you for this extremely timely post. I can’t wait to read the next one!

    • Parsley

      So, I read recently that it’s not actually goldenrod that most people are allergic to – it’s something else that sends out pollen at the same time as goldenrod. Ragweed maybe? Something like that. So, maybe your goldenrod bouquets will still work?

      We’re growing some flowers (fingers crossed that the cosmos bloom in the next 10 days!) and then planning to stop on the way to the rehearsal to pick a bunch more by the side of the road. Just before the rehearsal, we’re having a big DIT flower arranging party to set up the flowers for the tables. I’m looking forward to it as a way to spend more time with my wedding party. We’ll see how it goes.

      • Alexandra

        I was about to double this. Ragweed is what people are generally allergic too, just people with Ragweed allergies tend to be very quick at declaring plants that bear a mild resemblance to ragweed as “that horrible thing that gives me allergies.” (at least in my experience. So many people visit my cottage and declare we should rip out the goldenrod “because it’s ragweed.” Similar problems with poison ivy.) Goldenrod itself just happens to be very obvious looking and somewhat similar. So Goldenrod is still a viable option.

    • Megan (from Nova Scotia)

      Don’t fret the registry, seriously. I picked a department store most people are familiar with (I actually picked two) and did the work online. One day I thought ‘lets do linens’ and registered for a couple of sheet sets and some towels, and another day I thought ‘lets do dishes’. You can find useful guides online to help you think of the essentials, but since you live at home, you should just ask your parents what you *really* need. They already know about the stuff they got for gifts and then never used. For example, if they got fine china, and you haven’t seen it taken out of the cabinet in years, don’t feel like you have to register for it.

      You don’t really have to make a huge effort to put ‘fun stuff’ on the registry. If someone thinks what you’ve got on there is too practical, they’ll go buy you something else :)

    • Zen

      You can do what we did and procrasti — I mean, er, fail to do the registry for perfectly legitimate reasons until after the invitations had gone out, and then just tell people where it is when they ask. I guess it’s slightly more bother for your guests, since they have to chase you for it, but our guests don’t seem too annoyed.

      • It might be slightly less convenient for them but it’s certainly good etiquette!

  • Laura

    Did you knowww that Amazon has a meta-registry?!?

    Yes. Like, any item from any website anywhere. Ever. Or, not ever, but at least right now. All in one place. Done and done.

    Also, flowers are the worst. More potted plants!

    • I am planning on doing small potted plants as favors! It will add to the greenery and actually be somewhat useful for the guests.

      There’s also a meta registry called MyRegistry.com that not only lets you add anything from the Web, but also syncs with common registry locations like Target, Crate&Barrel, and even Anthropologie (among others). I think we’re going to go that route for ease and convenience.

      • MDBethann

        Small potted plants were what we used in May – a mix of annuals and perennials. The guests seemed to really like them and coupled with the candles provided by our venue, looked great.

        We went with 3 1/2 inch pots and got 1 per couple (or single guest if flying solo) thinking more would be too much, but we could have easily done 1 pot per person at our 8 and 10 person tables and it wouldn’t have been too crowded. And the flowers were really inexpensive, about $1.50-$2/pot because we were buying them in large quantities. I then got a mix of colors and it made the tables very colorful. The only thing I would change would be buying more flowers than we did.

        The greenhouse where we bought the flowers then wrapped all the little green plastic pots in colored foil for us and it looked much prettier with the foil (we did get a little matchy on the foil – pale blue and pale green).

      • Martha

        Just FYI – We used MyRegistry.com, and while it was great for us (we can choose ANYTHING!), I think it was a little confusing for some of our guests, especially the ones who aren’t “tech-savvy”. If I did it again, I’d probably go with Amazon (a little simpler, but still a huge selection) and Macy’s.

        • We used MyRegistry too, and it seemed to work fine for most of our guest but then something like 80 percent of them just gave us money anyway.

    • PA

      Meta-registry AND your guests can click an item as bought even if they bought it from another site! I am a HUGE fan.

      • It works really well with handmade/artisan sites like Artfire and Etsy, too, which I love.

    • Zen

      I did not know that! :O But Cephas will probably frown at me if I suggest it. He dislikes Amazon for being a monopoly and also has had enough of registry shopping. :)

      But where do the potted plants go afterwards???

      • Laura

        Ahh, Amazon is kind of The Man. But they work with Etsy (mentioned above) and other un-Man-ly (but not umanly!) sites.

        As for the plants, the main thing is that they *don’t* go in the trash (although I suppose you could always compost cut flowers). Options: In your garden? In the garden of a local community development project? In your guests’ hands, a la Lauren (above)? Maybe back to the greenhouse they came from for some of your money back (a pre-arrangement, if possible)?

      • My anti-Amazonian-ness is why I’m leaning more towards MyRegistry! But of course, everyone is really The Man anyway.

      • MDBethann

        The guests at our wedding all took their plant favors – we took that to mean they were a hit. There were a handful of leftovers that we had decorating the side tables, but then my mom and I put them in our flower beds at home, where they’ve been growing nicely ever since the wedding.

        Though I guess if you wanted to do “rent a topiary” you probably could.

        I just liked that it made our wedding spring-y, green, helped a local business, and we didn’t have lots of cheap plastic “stuff” lying around afterwards.

        Note: We did buy a bunch of cheap plastic maracas for the kids at the wedding, since it was Cinco de Mayo, but they LOVED the maracas and they took those home. Our leftovers were the crayons we had for them to color with at the kids’ table.

    • We did the amazon registry. Don’t forget that you can use their “universal” wishlist option for your registry as well and add items from shops around the web (we got a tent from REI!). We live 2000 miles from where we had our wedding, so we also suggested that people have gifts shipped to us or gift us cash to help us buy a car. All this noted on amazon.

  • Parsley

    Zen, I just love your writing. I’m always excited when I come to the site and see a post from you. Thank you for another great piece of reflection on the whole wedding thing!

  • kara

    SO SO glad our church doesn’t allow any pew or altar decorations. I can’t have one of The Things because it is Forbidden! Seriously, I love my ceremony venue so much because of their rules (no unity candle, no aisle runner, no flower throwing, no bubbles, no pew/altar decorations). Their rules saved me a lot of headache trying to justify the lack of unity candle, etc to my parents.

    • ElisabethJoanne

      I think we checked off 15% of thekn*t’s checklist by having a completely traditional Anglican Catholic wedding. No vow writing, no reading choosing, etc.

      • Zen

        Are the readings chosen for you? We’re having a Catholic wedding with nuptial mass, but we’re allowed/have to pick three or four readings.

        I am profoundly relieved not to have to write my own vows, for sure.

        • ElisabethJoanne

          We do not have a choice of readings. I don’t like “chosen for you,” which suggests that someone else chose, rather than the selections being divine inspiration.

          “divine inspiration” is stating it too strongly, but our service is 500 years old, from sources more than 500 years old. When you’re dealing with materials that old, “choice” and “pick” don’t seem like the right words, unless you mean “choice” in the original sense, which is the sense in “USDA Choice Steak.”

          • Zen


    • KE

      My church is the same way, and I love it. There’s one small table you can put flowers on, and the flowers can’t be taller than the arms of the cross. So much of wedding planning is making decisions, and (to my great surprise) I’ve found I really love the few restrictions outside my control.

  • Ris

    Flowers! I ordered a box of pre-made bouquets from Sam’s. Pick a color and forget about it till they show up 2 days before the wedding :) Here’s some pink for you (I got the green and white package, it was gorgeous).


    • Jashshea

      Excuse me? This is awesome. How have all the others not shared this with everyone else!?

    • Zen

      Doesn’t ship to the UK, but hopefully it’ll be useful to other people reading the comments!

    • Ambi

      I have also gotten great flowers from Sams for an event. My only word of warning is that the options available to order in bulk are not necessarily the same as the flowers available for sale in the store. This only matters because you can’t go in and buy flowers in the store and do a trial run of your arrangements and then try to order those exact same flowers in bulk – we did this, and we used four different flowers for our trial run, and none of the four were available for bulk orders. So, I’d suggest starting from what is available for bulk orders and pick your flowers from there. If you want to do a trial run, just make sure you’re using something that you’ll be able to order.

      • Amber

        Another thing to keep in mind is that Sam’s Club is owned and operated by Wal-Mart. I know the flowers may be cheaper at Sam’s Club, but I’d much rather support a local business than this big corporation!

    • We did a similar thing, but using http://www.fiftyflowers.com/. Few clicks of the mouse and a whole SLEW of flowers arrived the day before the wedding. We took the bundles apart and rearranged them, but since we got the “centerpieces” we could have just hacked off the bottoms and plopped them in vases and been done with them. Highly recommend!

  • Granola

    Oh man flowers are insane. I’m pretty sure that’s how Bridezillas are made. I want seasonal fall flowers, whatever’s around. And you know, flowers are inherently pretty, this shouldn’t be that hard. Mom goes to florist, because I live 500 miles away from the wedding location. “No, we couldn’t possibly give you an estimate until we talk to the bride and see what she wants.” “I want this.”

    Queue minutely detailed inventory of every flower I want in every place – a set of decisions that I have already tried to outsource to the professionals we are paying. But no dice. If, at that point, something wasn’t executed properly, you can bet I’d be enraged!

    That being said Zen, keep looking for another florist. I did eventually find one who’s chill and sane and it’s going to work out great.

    • ElisabethJoanne

      I totally agree.

      I brought up my frustrations with rude and know-it-all wedding vendors to some men friends: We had a florist that wouldn’t buy the vases we wanted. (Budget was not an issue.) We had reception venues that wouldn’t work with our allergy concerns or timeline (for our Monday afternoon wedding; again, not messing with their business model). We had stationers that insisted on separate reception cards.

      Because I felt that if I’m paying thousands of dollars, I should get exactly what I want, no matter what’s “usually done” or “traditional” (and it’s not “traditional” – I can show the exact page you where Amy Vanderbilt’s Complete Book of Etiquette, 1958 contradicts you!), I was a bridezilla. Apparently, I’m supposed to be the little woman and just do what the corporations recommend.

      In no other context is the customer considered so incompetent. If the men I was talking to went into a department store and asked for a striped tie, and were told paisley was better, they wouldn’t shut up and listen. They’d storm out. If they were planning a business luncheon, they wouldn’t adjust their timetable to match the caterer’s habits.

      But because they have this WIC nightmare of brides being unreasonably and rudely demanding, they go looking for it even from polite, reasonable, intelligent, informed women.

      • Megan (from Nova Scotia)

        ahhh tradition! Mom told me ‘well, you have to do *something* traditional’ when I nixed garter tossing, and cake cutting, and flower throwing of any kind. I told her ‘We’re getting married, that’s traditional’. Que crickets in background.

        Ooooh, how’s this line: “I realize what I am requesting is not strictly conventional. If you don’t feel it’s within the scope of your artistry, I am sure my fiance and I can make alternative arrangements.” ? This can be said in a polite, and professional manner. No matter how inexperienced you are at event planning, you are not incompetent, and shouldn’t tolerate being treated as such.

        • ElisabethJoanne

          That’s a good line. We’ve politely walked away (whether literally, with the stationer, or e-walked, with the florist) from the know-it-all vendors. It’s just surprised me how many take that attitude. I suppose it shouldn’t, ’cause I’d read APW for several months before we started meeting with vendors, but it’s so thoroughly counter-productive with us, I would have thought the profit motive surpassed the complex part of the Wedding-Industrial-Complex.

    • Zen

      I must do justice to the church flower lady — she was very nice and helpful; I just had no idea what I was doing!

  • Hannah

    Ohhhhhhh flowers. I really know nothing about them (and 2 months post-wedding, still don’t know much). I delegated responsibility to my friend who’s on our church’s flower guild. I handed over swatches of colors, and rough idea about budget, and pretty much left it at that. It went perfectly.

    And I wussed out on the registry–just did it via the department store’s website so I could avoid the registry rep in the store.

    • Laura

      Stores have registry reps? Yikes. Count me out. Online – and no pressure! – all the way.

      Also, churches have flower guilds?? [Outside of my realm of exposure.] Way to tap that resource!

      • ElisabethJoanne

        I’d guess that most churches that regularly have flowers out have a flower guild. In the last 2 churches I’ve been a member of, there was a head of the flower guild with a wholesaler’s license, who could get flowers really cheap, and then she has helpers for arranging them and putting them out Saturday afternoons or very early Sundays.

        I’m guessing most Protestant liturgical churches also have altar guilds, who set up and clean up for the liturgies.

        Someone’s got to do all such things, and unless a congregation is very large or very wealthy, it’s usually a group of lady volunteers. We don’t always go by the “guild” name, but that’s the traditional name. Sometimes, being on a guild is an honor; members pay dues, like a club (or guild).

  • Jashshea

    Oh Zen! Absolutely. I had a printer meeting today where he asked for the exact Pantone number for my navy and grey invitations. I said “navy and grey are fine, whatever,” which is NOT an appropriate response, FYI. I’m sure he’s probably used to designers or brides rushing into the factory throwing incorrectly colored invitation suites at his head, but I’m DONE with minutia-level decisions. And I haven’t been to the florist yet :)

  • Laura

    Oh god. The flowers.

    The flowers were what finally led to the first wedding breakdown, complete me with screaming at the computer, “F**K FLOWERS, I DON’T CARE ABOUT FLOWERS.”

    And then, we threw money at the problem to make it go away :P

  • Lorrie

    Yes, flowers were such a shock. I figured $1000 budget no problem right? They don’t need to be huge or fancy, I’m putting them in a Mason jar anyway. Yeah, wrong. After a lot of research I found someone awesome who works out of her own home and willing to work with me on pricing. I figured I should at least talk to one more place before putting down a deposite. Called the local flower shop in town and they refused to make an appointment until I could bring them a swatch from the bridesmaid dresses…so they could match. They insisted even after I explained that the dresses are navy blue and I want yellow flowers so there’s nothing to match because apparently “we could be talking about 15 different shades of fuschia”. Alright, depsite to other awesome florist.

    • I also had a flower budget of $1,000 and was SHOCKED at how little that got us. They’re just going to die in a vase on the table anyway!

  • ElisabethJoanne

    I’ll admit it, because there must be other members of Team Practical who felt the same way, but “not caring about the flowers” is an APW trope: I cared about the flowers. For the church, I knew exactly what flowers I wanted from my first date with my eventual fiance. (Same actually goes with all things related to the ceremony)

    • Megan (from Nova Scotia)

      I can’t say I know exactly what flowers I want. However, I do care about the flowers, mostly because I LOVE flowers to an insane degree. The problem is that I love them too much- there are too many choices, so the florist is going to have to narrow it down for me.

      • Lorrie

        Exactly. I did care about the flowers, and I wanted them to look nice, but they weren’t at the top of my budget priorities. Also I know nothing about them. So I guess I can say I wasn’t particular about flowers. I ended up creating a giant pintrest page of stuff I liked and gave it to the florists with some general guidelines and then am basically giving her free range within the budget.

    • Jennie

      The flowers are also very important to me – I love flowers and if it was in the budget would probably always have flowers on my kitchen table. So having flowers at the wedding feels important to me. That said, I am lucky to live in a region (Seattle) that produces flowers almost year-round and the place we’re getting married has a garden where we can hand cut flowers the day before the wedding. That is actually one of the things I am most looking forward to!

  • Beth

    Oh I empathise totally with the John Lewis gift list thing. Unfortunately for us our closest is now Oxford St…yep, the massivest one in London! It was hell. We wondered round in bewilderment for about an hour, trying to summon up excitement about appliances and saucepans (even an opinion!) before grabbing our free cake and bolting. We also need stuff (only just moving in together about a week before getting married) but never really want it – and certainly not when other people are paying for it!
    And the irony is – as you found – that we decided on a gift list because, hey, we NEEDED the stuff and were told firmly that that’s precisely what people expect gift lists to be and will want to help you build your home etc. only to be told once we’d set it up that it was too ‘boring’ and people would just go off list anyway!
    I guess the best thing is just to give people plenty of options and then stand back and accept whatever happens :)

    • Zen

      John Lewis is very confusing! I like baking and cooking so I do geek out about cooking apparatus, but it’s probably not that practical to fill one’s registry with every type of baking tin known to man, and some invented by John Lewis. :)

      “I guess the best thing is just to give people plenty of options and then stand back and accept whatever happens :)”

      Yeah, I figure that’s what it’s for! It is nice not to be too attached to it; as far as I’m concerned the registry is now Somebody Else’s Problem.

      • Class of 1980

        The “John Lewis” reference is freaking me out.

        I know it’s a store in the U.K., but it was also my grandfather’s name here in the U.S.!

  • Elaine

    Oh, Zen. Despite the fact that we approach our weddings from different cultural backgrounds and circumstances, I feel like your posts totally encompass my wedding planning experience and outlook. Thank you, APW, for giving voice to the trying-to-plan-a-wedding-but don’t-really-care-about-“bride”-stuff perspective.

  • Ambi

    I think I may be your exact opposite when it comes to creating a registry. I am a bit obsessed right now with doing all kinds of research so that we’ll be prepared to register for things that we’ll (1) actually use, and (2) be able to enjoy for a long time. So I am loving the process. I have no qualms about the fact that our registry will be of the extremely boring and practical variety, but at the same time I probably wouldn’t think twice about adding something frivolous (or expensive) if I thought we’d actually use and enjoy it. I think this goes back to the idea that your guests are adults, and they will make their own decisions and do what is right for them – just because you put an expensive stand mixer or a frivolous creme brulee torch on the list doesn’t mean that someone is going to feel forced to buy it for you. And at the same time, a person who is bored with your practical guest list is free to use his or her creativity to spice it up a bit – I do this all the time by buying a practical item from the list (for example, a collander) and adding something too it, like a pasta cookbook and a jar of fancy gourmet pasta sauce.

    • Zen

      It’s not so much that I feel guests would feel forced to buy things off the list; it just doesn’t feel that natural to me to be making a list of things I want when I’m not going to be buying those things myself. But registering for gifts is obviously a cultural practice that’s new to me, and my family of origin doesn’t even really celebrate any gift-giving holidays, so maybe that’s why?

      • Ambi

        That is definitely understandable. And I feel the same way when my mom or my boyfriend asks me “what do you want for Christmas?” – I can’t just ask for stuff, that seems rude! But somehow, at least for me (and in the culture I grew up in), registries have become so standard that I don’t really think about the fact that, by having a registry, the couple is essentially asking for these items. I mean, registries feel very removed from the couple because now they are usually in the form of a very commercialized website or a form printed in the store, with the store logo on top, and it feels, to me, very much like a service or marketing tool the company is using (kind of like how I feel when I get a sales brochure from Target that has clearly been sent to me based on the data they have about my buying habits). Maybe that is creepy (yeah, it probably is), but to me registries feel a bit like that.
        But, I am also from a small town in the South (United States), and all throughout this region it has been standard practice for generations that, if your town had a gift shop or store that sold items like serving china (or everyday plates), serving platters, home decor, and things like that, almost every family in town would have a running “registry” at all times – that way, whenever anyone needed to buy someone from that family a gift, they had a resource with information about things like “The Jones Family has china pattern X, and they already have all the pieces except Y and Z” or “The Smith Family recently started collecting Christmas-themed serving dishes because they’ll be hosting Christmas dinner at their house this year” or “The Richardson’s youngest daughter is graduating high school in May and will be heading to Ole Miss next year (so Ole Miss themed gifts for her would be appropriate).” I have personally used these more personal old-fashioned types of registries to buy both wedding gifts and other, non-wedding gifts (thank-you gifts and hostess gifts – for example, I was able to find out that my hostess prefers candles but she is allergic to flowers). Anyway, to me that kind of helps as a way to think of registries. They are a resource – kind of like a reference book – where couples can record information about themselves and then guests who are looking to give the couple a thoughtful and personal gift can go and find that information and make their choices. Yes, today’s big corporate wedding registries are just lists of items, but the idea behind them was to provide information about the couple’s lifestyle and tastes current needs so gift givers could give something more personal.

  • KW

    When my older sister (the eldest of 7 children, 5 of whom are female) married for the 1st time, it had to be done on a very tight budget. So she and my mom bought a bunch of silk flowers in the colors she wanted, and then we had a “flower party” with the sisters and bridesmaids to create the bouquets, boutonnieres, etc. It was a lot of fun and became the tradition in our family even when budgets weren’t so tight.

    I am more-or-less eloping and only one person in my family knows. My sister is going to make me a bouquet with handmade satin flowers and such, an idea she found on Pinterest and had already started making stuff before I asked her to do this for me. She started it late because things were crazy with a move, etc, in the past month, so I already told her if she can’t get it finished, to just stop at a store and pick up some fresh flowers for me that morning (I’m going to be in a cabin with no good shopping options nearby).