Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Wedding Planning Post

Here I am, the girl who said she wasn't going to have a wedding, planning one.


For the last five years or so, I have terrorized my mother by saying that I wouldn't have a wedding, or at least not a wedding with a white dress and bouquets and centerpieces and all that. I meant it, too. Only now that it's actually here, I find that I do want something—not a big, traditional thing, but something to commemorate the day.


It sounds so easy when it's summed up like that, doesn't it? The truth is, the first month Peanut and I were engaged was awful. I cried more days than not, trying to figure out ways to accommodate everyone and still get everything I wanted, and I couldn't figure out how to do it. I read all the wedding planning books that are out there, especially the offbeat, anti-bride type of books, which all made me even more stressed out about how if I wanted things non-traditional I was going to have to do everything by hand myself. I worried about how I'm going to break the news that the girl who didn't want a wedding but is now kind of doing one STILL isn't going to make her mother's wishes come true. I stressed about who's going to pay for what, and whether some of our non-negotiables are going to make people refuse to come (alcohol remains one big sticking point). I argued with Peanut that despite how unhappy all the planning was making me, I DO want to spend thousands of dollars on this one day, and that that's just how much things cost and there's no getting around it. I tried to have a budget conversation with my mother, who flat-out refused to talk dollars, asking me to wait until we see each other in person two months later, when I needed to book a venue NOW since we're planning on such a short schedule. I worried that ultimately it was going to suck, that the people I wanted most to be there weren't going to be able to come, and that I was going to turn into Bridezilla and start having all the things I swore I didn't want.  


And then we had our engagement pictures taken, and I read a couple of books: Altared, A More Perfect Union, and One Perfect Day.


And things sort of fell into place for me.


Having the pictures taken was FUN. Flat out, ridiculous good time fun for me. They are so amazing, so glamorous and beautiful—I was there and I still don't believe that it's us. (And best of all, they were free, which makes everything taste better!) Between that experience and the books of women who were finally raising the same issues I felt, I started to get a clearer picture of what I wanted for our day.


1.       Casual. I don't want a formal day. I don't want a formal gown. I don't want Peanut in a tux. I don't want a formal sit-down dinner. I don't want a DJ announcing anything, I don't want planned toasts.  I don't want a first dance or a bouquet or garter toss.

2.       People. I want all the people I love to be able to come. This eventually meant a change of cities for us, which was disappointing but it's the only way my grandparents will be able to come, and they are so important to me. It's looking like Peanut's family is also willing/able to travel, so that's even better. And some of my friends have promised they will do everything they can to be there, which makes me feel awesome.

3.       Convenient. I'm planning this wedding from a distance, while working full time and writing my thesis. I do not have time to worry about favors, centerpieces, coordinating bridesmaid's dresses, or renting chairs. Not only that, I don't care about any of that stuff. I do not care what color the napkins are. I do not care what kind of flowers are in a bouquet. I do not care how the chairs are arranged. I do not care where people sit. I do not care, and I don't want anyone to bug me about it. I want to show up and that's it.

4.       Good food. We have a big contingent of vegetarians coming, and I want to make sure that they get tasty food. (I want the omnivores to get good food, too, but vegetarians are so often overlooked or expected to make do with a salad and a baked potato.)

5.       Cheap. We will not go into debt, nor will we let our parents go into debt, to pay for this wedding. My high budget is set at $10,000; I expect to spend more like $5-7,000 and am really hoping to hit less than that.

6.       Pictures. I want pictures of the day that make us look as happy and in love as we do in our engagement photos and that capture my family and friends looking happy.


That's it. I really don't care about much else. And once I sort of narrowed that down, I was able to pinpoint a location very quickly, which I booked yesterday. It's cheap, pretty, available, all-inclusive (except for centerpieces), easy to get to, and judging from the line of people out the door the day my dad went to check it out, the food's great.  


So that's the first thing done and everything else will start falling into place. There will be more hurdles ahead—I still have to have a conversation with my mother about the budget in person next month. I'll have to stick to my guns on refusing to have or do things I don't want (like professional hair and makeup, getaway car) and things I do want (alcohol, non-religious ceremony) and I'm sure I haven't shed the last tear over this wedding yet. But I'm done fixating on the difficulties of wedding planning.  



  1. definitely aim high on your budget... weddings are notorious for breaking budgets. bur definitely keep up with the details!

  2. I'm glad you are feeling more calm about everything.

    You plans sound wonderful and you sound so sure of them. I was always unsure, and most of all when I had to explain them to other people.

    I realized my wants were a lot more traditional than I expected, and more often than not, we took the "easiest" route. I agree about indie bride sites being overwhelming with all the crafty details. It isn't about details. It is about the big stuff.

    Are any of those books suitable for those who are already married?

  3. @stackingpennies, I had the same realization! And I hated that I was leaning towards more traditional things than I always said I wanted. And after I calmed down, I realized that some of it wasn't true wants, and I can incorporate the stuff that I REALLY do want (like a dress and a party, not just city hall) without going all the way (no veil, etc).

    I don't think One Perfect Day is great for people who are already married--it was making me feel defensive about some of my choices, and I haven't even spent money on it yet! A More Perfect Union would be enjoyable and Altared would definitely be a fit--all of the essays in there are about weddings that have already happened (or in one case, didn't happen) and so former brides would have a lot to sympathize with.

  4. Good luck on wedding planning.. it's great you've broken out what's important vs. what's not. Does your budget include traveling expenses?

  5. It includes travel for us to get to and from the wedding location, but not a honeymoon, because we're not having one, at least not anytime soon. More to come on that!

  6. OOh, I want to hear about the lack of honeymoon. I'm not engaged, but I don't think I want a honeymoon either. But I am part of the traditional camp, and I am expecting it to run me in the high 20s!

    Aww, I'm sorry that you are stressing out about the wedding planning. But know that you aren't the only bride that has done that. It is kind of like a rite of passage. I guess if you don't cry, you had a ready good wedding planner or are on Platinum Weddings. LOL

  7. Girl, girl, girl! I'm glad you found a site that can handle most things for you. Because the little details are what can drive you nuts!

    Good luck talking to your mom about budget. We've had to compromise on some things - like having a semi-religious ceremony - because my parents are paying, and I don't want them to think we're going to hell. :-p I justify it by telling myself that even though we're not religious the Bible is a book with some good points. Maybe it won't be so bad. :)

    It's good that you were able to prioritize what things were important to you both. Good luck in your planning!


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