Weddings for Dummies, Second Edition
October 10, 2011 6:35 AM   Subscribe

Weddings for Dummies in 2011?

I just got engaged, and of course I immediately logged in to AskMeFi for advice on wedding planning.

My mom got married in her backyard with a homemade dress and flowers from the garden. His mom recently got re-married a huge country club and already is encouraging me to pick out my silver pattern (really). I'm somewhere in the middle, and would love to be able to make some independent decisions.

I looked over this Ask from 2008, and was wondering if there are any new books/sites/blogs on the scene? What was your most helpful resource when planning your wedding in the past few years?
posted by kidsleepy to Human Relations (16 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
Well, the Internet is kind of a mess for weddings. Indiebride is sort of... fascinating. (You may start reading it obsessively. It can be helpful! But there's definitely a car crash aspect to it that's thrilling as well.) Offbeat Bride is far more helpful in that reading it makes you focus on who YOU are, and what YOU want, as opposed to what is expected of you, what your friends and parents will say and want, and all that crap that even in the most unusual of families starts to get surprisingly weird.

But I have to say: no resource prepared me for the strange things that happen when you start to put together a wedding. I can tell you this: successful wedding planning is about information control. It's about you and your intended presenting a unified front; it's about being careful with how and when you give people information; and it's about going the extra mile to explain things with great clarity. It will require reserves of graciousness and good will!

It's YOUR wedding and the two of you should do it exactly how you want to do it. Don't compromise, and don't lose heart.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 6:46 AM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

(In fact, yes, this is a must-read: "Many people had worried looks and a lot of concern that things weren't 'wedding-y' enough. Whenever I made a decision, I ended up hearing, 'Oh, that's nice, but remember it's your wedding!' Luckily, because Christopher and I were so careful to hone our vision together right from the start, people ended up really respecting that vision and doing everything they could to make it happen.")
posted by RJ Reynolds at 6:52 AM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

A Practical Wedding: book & website.
posted by emkelley at 7:11 AM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

The Knot, and previously mentioned Indiebride and Offbeat Bride are the 3 sites that my friends and I used the most to get ideas. I used a hand-me-down wedding planning book that my sister had already dog-eared all to heck, and it was a great reference for how things are "supposed to be," even though I broke most of the rules.

I think the tool I used most, though, was the wedding planning magazine-book from Real Simple magazine. I think they publish one each year or so, and it breaks things down really nicely and provides good ideas for flowers/cake/centerpieces, tips on choosing dress, makeup, etc., planning timelines, and photos from real weddings. Having a printed resource is a lot less overwhelming than a huge website like the ones mentioned above.

A caveat about wedding-planning resources: Bridal magazines will show you $30,000 dresses and you'll scoff and think, "No, I'm having a down to earth wedding that doesn't cost as much as a house!" So you'll go to websites like The Knot, where they will have all these photos of "REAL WEDDINGS," and you'll think it's more your speed. But once you get to really budgeting out your wedding bit by bit, you'll realize that all those "real" brides had astronomical budgets to make their shindig magazine-photoshoot-worthy. Even the "DIY weddings!" that make it into the magazines and websites have big budgets for craft supplies and armies of aunts to assemble individual napkin rings or whatever. So don't feel like your wedding has to look like the ones you see online or in magazines.

That said, I found that it was unexpectedly helpful to browse the blogs of wedding photographers. They show ACTUAL real weddings, and you can gets tons of great ideas for your party without feeling like everybody else can afford to have a live violinist at each table of the reception and gold-plated peacock feathers lining the aisle. Google "wedding photographer" and a city, even if it's not your city, to get a multitude of photos.

Finally, the most helpful website for our planning were Gmail and Google Docs. Set up a shared email account just for the wedding, because holy cow will you get a lot of wedding-related spam as soon as you are on anyone's list. Use this account if you go to a wedding fair and are signing up for vendor info, use it when you're actually contacting vendors, use it if you sign up for The Knot or any other wedding website. It's great to have that stuff all in one easy-to-search place, and even greater to have it confined away from your personal email address. Plus, both you and your fiance can access it.

On that note, Google Docs is amazing. We set up budget spreadsheets, to-do lists, guest lists spreadsheets, a list of first dance ideas, and a million other things within our shared google docs account linked to that email address, and then shared them with our personal accounts too so we could get at them easily no matter who was logged in. Being able to collaborate on these things, and having access whether we were on lunch break at work or at my parent's house or wherever, was fantastic.

Congrats on the engagement, and happy planning!
posted by vytae at 7:25 AM on October 10, 2011 [2 favorites]

Nthing A Practical Wedding.

I like to go to Weddingbee for more mainstream "WIC" (a term you'll learn at A Practical Wedding/Offbeat Bride) viewpoints from female bloggers planning their weddings.
posted by elisse at 7:26 AM on October 10, 2011

We found the checklist and budget tracker on very helpful. We had started out using tools on The Knot, but they're not quite there in terms of functionality (particularly when it comes to re-balancing the budget lines).
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:02 AM on October 10, 2011

Nthing the love for Offbeat Bride, as I'm one of the gals quoted in the book!

What worked for the good doctor and I was our shared goal of getting married -- nothing more, nothing less. The hen 'do/stag night, the bridal showers, the receptions ... they were all secondary to our wedding, so we were happy to let ownership of those events go to those who felt more strongly about it than we did.

Congratulations on the engagement!
posted by evoque at 9:14 AM on October 10, 2011

Congratulations! Some friends just got married, in a very similar situation. The very religious Christian mother-of-the-Bride had very strong feelings about doing it up, the culturally Jewish parents-of-the-Groom are frugal hippies, and the Bride & Groom wanted a very personal event, vegan meal options, and were inclusive of Christianity, Judaism, and their own spiritual and cultural beliefs. The ceremony was at a park with a lovely meeting room, followed by a reception in a big tent. Bride wore a wedding-y dress, but not white or froufrou. Bridesmaids wore pretty dresses, not perfectly matched, but themed. Groom & his men wore nice suits, matching shirts, ties & hats. The couple's friends decorated with big paper lanterns lit with colored lights, and paper cranes, and it was lovely. The Bride was stressed by trying to meet the varying needs of the many people involved, but the she and the Groom were a rock-solid team, and threaded a path that made them happy, and satisfied the parents. The result was a personal, meaningful wedding, and a great party, with lots of dancing.

Separate the religious part of the wedding, if any, from the party(reception). Your beliefs and vows are what the wedding is about. A wedding is a legal, religious and community event. Meaningful music, readings and participants make it special. It's also an opportunity to involve family members. Wanna do something like this? If you have the resources, go for it, either at the wedding or reception.

The reception is a big party, possibly the biggest party you'll ever throw, at least until your kids (if any) get married. You don't need (m)any of the things the Wedding Industrial Complex wants to sell you. You don't need "theme colors to cherish forever" unless you want them. You can get married in the morning, have a wedding breakfast, then head to the beach, or have a blowout evening event.

You can search for wedding checklists, which are useful, though overly comprehensive. Remember that all wedding mags are supported by advertisers, and they will push you to buy.

Stuff you have to have: license, officiant, witnesses, venue/date
Stuff most people have: budget, participants, guests, special clothing/shoes, photography/video, invitations, flowers/decorations, food/cake, music, rings, adult beverages
Stuff some people have: limo, balloon ride, favors, destination weddings.

Your goal is to marry someone you love, probably to share this event with the people you love, and to celebrate the joyful event; have fun.
posted by theora55 at 10:05 AM on October 10, 2011 [2 favorites]

I got engaged a couple of months ago, so I definitely get the feelings of "Hooray! Uh, now what?" The wedding world is kind of...overwhelming, but you're not alone. I've been in kind of a wedding planning blitz lately. I'm in New Jersey, but planning a California wedding for next year, so I'm still a little amazed that anyone ever managed to do this before the internet.

I definitely second the Offbeat Bride and A Practical Wedding suggestions. I've also hit the Budget Savvy Bride a couple of times, but Offbeat Bride and A Practical Wedding are the two wedding blogs I've been visiting the most, not because they always fit my view of a perfect wedding, but because they really seem to emphasize weddings that focus on the couple. The weddings they feature also tend to be more realistic than what you encounter at places like The Knot, but I warn you now, weddings, even modest ones, can be way more expensive than you might imagine.

I tend to go to Martha Stewart Weddings rather than The Knot if I want to just ogle some wedding porn, since they're a little less in your face with the ads hawking stupid wedding frippery, even though the vendors they feature tend to be crazy expensive.

Google Docs is a must, as already mentioned. In addition to using it for researching potential wedding music, I've also hit up YouTube a surprising amount for instructions for DIY projects and wedding hair and makeup.

And this is pretty California-specific, but I found Here Comes the Guide super helpful when I was researching venues, but they're really only useful in CA, unfortunately. I've been planning my CA wedding long distance from New Jersey, so I really have no idea how people did this before the Internet.

Anyway, congratulations on the engagement! And if you're in search of a fellow MeFite bride to dish with, feel free to shoot me a MeMail.
posted by Diagonalize at 10:54 AM on October 10, 2011

I just had my wedding! It was great!! The best part about the event was spending time with our favorite people in the world. I'm really happy we maximized that opportunity with a smallish wedding and left a few hours during the reception for just dancing and hanging out (cut out a lot of preprogrammed "wedding reception" elements like toasts, etc). The ceremony is about committing to your partner in front of people you love. The reception is about throwing a big celebration and having fun with the people you love. Don't get sidetracked by what a wedding "should" be.

A few lessons from the trenches:
- your budget will expand. We ended up at about 150% of our original estimate for the reception, and ended up adding other events because we had some extra $$ so the overall budget was probably twice what we originally planned on.
- if budget is important to you cut in the areas you are less interested in. My dress was super cheap (from a dept store) and my shoes were very expensive (will wear again). We didn't have a cake or a videographer (don't worry, we had many, many desserts!)
- that said, don't skimp where you really care. We wanted a certain venue, we knew spending money on photos would be important, and having a saturday night party was important to us.

A Practical Wedding was a huge influence on my early wedding planning. I also used the Real Simple guide (calming) and looked at Here Comes the Guide for venues (though ultimately found mine on a wedding photographer's blog).

Also LA specific - but I read a few budget specific blogs: (he's hilarious and provides a spreadsheet of what venues actually cost - unlike Here Comes the Guide which refuses to provide pricing for some obscure and annoying wedding industry reason) (she had a wedding for $10K in Los Angeles - pretty impossible)
posted by rainydayfilms at 11:15 AM on October 10, 2011

It's not recent (1995), but I think fairly highly of How to Have the Wedding You Want (Not the One Everybody Else Wants You to Have) by Danielle Claro.
posted by Lexica at 12:07 PM on October 10, 2011

I just got married last December. In addition to the sites above, I also gleaned really good ideas from Intimate Weddings. Even if you want a wedding that's not small or that intimate, there are still good tips to be had there.

Have fun, and congrats!
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 4:10 PM on October 10, 2011

Nthing A Practical Wedding, Offbeat Bride, Indiebride, How to have the wedding you want, Intimate Weddings, and WeddingWire. I also loved A More Perfect Union, One Perfect Day, The Conscious Bride and Altared to be FANTASTIC for reality checks.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 4:50 PM on October 10, 2011

I really enjoyed this book -- though I read it after I got married: I Do But I Don't: Walking Down the Aisle Without Losing Your Mind. (I linked to the hardcover because it has the most reviews, but there is also a paperback + Kindle edition.)
posted by BlahLaLa at 5:03 PM on October 10, 2011

Nthing A Practical Wedding. Also East Side Bride.
posted by meevo at 7:30 AM on November 3, 2011

Also, APW's blog roll is very helpful.
posted by meevo at 7:32 AM on November 3, 2011

« Older Goofy-proof iPhone 4/4s cases!   |   Kalanchoe - potting questions Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.