Posts Tagged: weddings

Real Talk About Wedding Planning: Avoid Magazines, Skip The Handmade Details, & Get Some Help


“So are you completely tired of talking about your wedding yet?” Mama W. asked me the other day.

“Pretty much,” I said.

“Good,” she said. “You have to get over it eventually.”

And it’s with those very-typically-my-mom words in my head that I write this post. Yes, it’s been about three months since I got married and I don’t need to talk about it all the time. That being said, these three months have helped me realize what I learned about the experience. And, in my infinite good heartedness (sarcasm alert!) I’d like to share it with all of you, just in case you’re about to plan a wedding of your own.

The very first thing I figured out was how annoying people are when they talk about their weddings. Yes, I realize that’s what I’m doing RIGHT NOW, but I’m not making you read my blog! You’re here because you like me, or because you’re hate-reading, and that’s fine, too. Whatever. People who talk about their weddings all the time are kind of annoying, right? But, honestly, I would WAY rather hear someone talk about picking out table linens for their $30,000 dollar affair than listen to YET ANOTHER person talk about how their wedding is just going to be “casual.”

I used to be this person. You know, that girl who’s like, “Oh, I don’t want some big thing. I just want a party with our best friends.” And, yeah, sure, that sounds great. But you know who says that? EVERYONE. Okay, we get it! You don’t want to walk down an aisle! You’re hella casual! That’s totally fine, but don’t act like that’s somehow a morally superior choice. Some of us have families who would be hurt and devastated if we didn’t have semi-traditional weddings, and you know what? That’s okay. I ended up getting married in a church, which I didn’t want to do at all, and yes it bothered me a great deal, but whatever. It’s done now. It’s one stinkin’ day, and it’s really, really not the point of the whole “marriage” thing.

What going through the planning experience taught me was that there isn’t one right way to do this. It’s just like planning any other party–some people want to do it up big, and some people don’t. Whatever. Just don’t act like your choice is somehow better than everyone else’s. I’ve been to semi-big weddings and I’ve been to dinners-after-courthouse weddings, and I’ve had a great time at them all.

I also learned to stay away from bridal culture. I didn’t go to bridal expos. I didn’t buy a single bridal magazine. And I tried to avoid Pinterest-ing too much. It is VERY easy to get sucked into the mindless materialism of wedding culture. There’s a truly endless variety of stupid stuff you can buy, and there are lots of articles and websites that would like to convince you to buy them. It’s so, so easy to start thinking, “But my wedding (and therefore my MARRIAGE) will be ruined if I don’t get these adorably expensive centerpieces!” It doesn’t matter. Just step away from Martha Stewart Weddings.

And on that note, you know all those handmade details that every wedding online seems to have? That unique guestbook with the thumb prints, the individual tiny jars of jam for favors, the banner made from vintage fabric? Do not worry about that stuff. Seriously. Pick a few things that are really important to you, focus on those, and let the rest slide. If you’re planning a party for anywhere from 50-350 people, then come on, girl. You do not have time to make that much jam. You and I both know that. Give yourself a break, because no one’s going to notice or complain if you use a few pre-fab touches. I love being crafty and personalizing things, but the care you put into your table runner doesn’t signify the care that you put into your relationship.

If you do have a lot more work than you can handle, just let people help you. They’re going to ask, and you’re going to want to tell them no. Don’t do that. Say something like, “Actually, I could use some help finding a caterer” or “Want to help me make all these tissue paper poms?” If it wasn’t for Mama W., my BFF/maid of honor, and the rest of my bridesmaids, I would’ve been even more stressed out. And I was already so stressed out that I had trouble sleeping some nights.

Also, don’t be surprised if things get dramatic. Since I don’t care about weddings, and my mom doesn’t care about weddings, and H. CERTAINLY doesn’t care about weddings, I didn’t anticipate a lot of “drama.” Well, I was unpleasantly surprised. You might be thinking, “Oh, that won’t happen to me,” but trust me, I didn’t think it would happen to me either. Weddings do weird things to normally sane people, and all of a sudden you’re going to find out that one of your friends or family members really cares about that open bar or which photographer you choose or what paperweight your invitations are. This is gonna make you stressed out like you’ve never been stressed out before, and all of this stress may cause you and your fiance to get into a fight in a TGI Friday’s parking lot. That may or may not be related to a personal story.

Clearly, planning a wedding is stressful. If you’re getting married, really and truly consider whether or not you want a wedding ceremony. Because, let me tell you guys, on more than one occasion I wished we eloped. The thought of being in front of so many people was a little horrifying to me. I did it, because there were specific memories I wanted from a wedding ceremony (an excuse to invite all of our friends, having my dad walk me down the aisle, an experience for our parents, etc.), but it isn’t for everyone. If you’re the kind of person who’s easily stressed out by this kind of stuff, just elope. Seriously. Do what you want and don’t worry about who’s judging you.

Because here’s the thing–weddings don’t matter all that much. Yes, it was very special to say our vows in front of a room full of people who care about us, and I’m glad we did that. But the success of that ceremony doesn’t have any bearing on the day-to-day realities of our relationship. Our marriage is not stronger because our wedding was super fun.

Things are going to be stressful. Many things are going to go wrong. Someone you don’t like is going to do something dumb and you’re going to think, “Ugh, why did I even have to invite you?” That’s just the reality of having a wedding. But who cares? I mean, really, WHO CARES? It’s one day. One party. So try not to stress out too much, or at least try not to stress out as much as I did. Appreciate that all of your friends and family came so far to see you (in our case, several people flew or drove across the country!) and just focus on that. After all, that’s why you decided to have a wedding.

Image via My Inspired Wedding

Why Women Like Wedding Stuff So Much

As I’ve admitted before, I’m not a “wedding-person.” As such, I haven’t watched a lot of wedding-related reality-television. Sure, I’m familiar with it, and I know what a Bridezilla is–even though, as Alex pointed out this weekend, that term really doesn’t make any sense and we should be using “Bride-jira,” which doesn’t have quite the same ring to it. But, in general, wedding television just seems to be about people shopping and getting stressed out, and those are my two least-favorite things in this life. If I could never shop or be stressed-out again, I’d be too happy. I only watched an episode of David Tutera this weekend so I could lean over to my boyfriend and say things like, “See? It could be worse. Instead of being stressed out to the point of tears by just the idea of looking at any venue I could want an Indian-themed wedding without Indian food because Indian food makes me “sleepy.””

But while wedding reality TV leaves me cold, there’s something I do love…fictional weddings.

Give me a fictional wedding any day of the week and I will watch the shit out of it. Furthermore, I’ll love every second. Cheesy wedding movies? Sure, I’ve seen 27 Dresses, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, My Best Friend’s Wedding, The Wedding Planner, and, one of my favorite movies OF ALL TIME, The Wedding Singer. I also love non-cheesy wedding movies, like Bridesmaids or Bachelorette. And wedding sitcoms? Good Lord. There’s nothing I love more than a wedding-episode of one of my favorite shows (well, other than a Christmas episode). New Girl had a great wedding episode, The Office had a fun one, and Happy Endings has multiple great wedding episodes. Honestly, I think it’s hard to mess up a wedding episode.

But what’s with this? Why do I, someone who doesn’t particularly even like weddings, enjoy watching so many fictional weddings? And why do so many other women love wedding reality TV? What is it about this stuff that draws us in, like one of those light-up bug zappers, but one that features David Tutera instead of imminent death?

Once I thought about it for two seconds, it became pretty obvious. Because weddings are one of the few things our culture celebrates that is clearly, totally, 100% female.

You might not agree with my assertion that weddings are a female-only activity, since men are often involved. But, as we all know, men do not care about weddings. Like, at all. Even the little bit I care about weddings dwarfs the interest H. has in weddings. Weddings celebrate all the good and awful stereotypes of womanhood. And weddings are emotional.

There are very few things I love more than talking about feelings, which I realize is a cliche. I’m not saying all women enjoy talking about feelings. I have friends who don’t! But, in general, I always want to get real and start getting down to the dirt, even if I’ve just met someone. Yes, I want to hear about your family drama. Sure, I want to know why you have problems committing in a relationship. I would love nothing more than hearing about how you came out to your parents. What’s the most recent fight you had with your significant other? Oh, are you still in love with your ex? I want to hear about all of these things. And weddings share my desire to get really real.

How much more emotional can you get? You’re standing in a room full of loved ones and telling them all how you feel. I love it. You’re saying, “This is the person I plan to be with forever, and these ladies standing next to me are the women who mean the most to me.” And you’re saying vows to commit to another person forever in front of everyone you know. That’s getting real. And, let’s face it, the idea of sharing emotions is something our culture sees as “female.” I don’t think it’s inherently, biologically, female, but that’s the way we’re brought up. And weddings are one of the only times we’re encouraged to get balls-out emotionally vulnerable.

There aren’t a lot of other opportunities to have everyone you love all in one space (although Caitlin Moran says this isn’t ideal. We’ll see what my thoughts on this subject are after it happens). And I know a cynic would say women love wedding shows so much because we just like the grandiose nature of it all, the expensive parties, the white dresses, the whole princess fantasy stuff, but I don’t think that’s true. Or, more accurately, I think it’s true for some people. But not for me. Weddings are just emotionally charged events, and if someone doesn’t end up either proposing*, announcing their pregnancy**, or getting drunk and commandeering the mic to publicly declare their love for another wedding guest*** at my wedding, then I’m gonna assume it’s a failure.

*This actually happened at a wedding I went to. But, as it turns out, neither that engagement nor the marriage I was there to witness actually “took.”

**Like on Friends.

***We’re actually having our reception at a dry venue, so this can only happen if someone brings their own alcohol/emotions.

So I Got Engaged Last Week

Remember that post from last Monday, where I talked about how much I hated it when people asked me when I was going to get married?

Well, when I said I would probably get engaged sooner rather than later, it turns out I had no idea how soon. On Wednesday evening, H. surprised me by popping the question. We’d talked about getting married, of course, but I had no idea he was going to propose then, on a Wednesday night, right after I got home from work, while I was still wearing my coat. So it was a complete and total shock, and all of a sudden I went from girlfriend to fiance. I’ll spare you the whole engagement story, but it involves H. building me a bookshelf with a special drawer where he hid the ring (that’s it in the picture at the top of the post). Yes, he built a bookshelf and proposed with it. It was the perfect proposal.

Since H. and I had been dating for so long, I assumed getting engaged wouldn’t change that much. As it turns out, I was very wrong. Getting engaged made me become ridiculously emotional. All of a sudden, the things that normally seemed like everyday activities now seem like sentimental traditions. Instead of going shopping, we’re shopping as a couple. Instead of just making dinner, I’m cooking dinner with my fiance. It actually does feel different, which makes me feel both lucky I have this opportunity in my life and sad that not everyone in our country is afforded the same liberty.

The other weird side effect of getting engaged is that I seem to be turning into another person.

It’s insane how quickly The Wedding Machine took over my life, and I am not a Wedding Person. I truly don’t care about weddings unless I’m close friends with the person getting married. I know nothing about rings–cuts and carats? It’s a foreign language to me. I’ve never imagined myself wearing a big dress and I’ve definitely never entertained any fantasies of being a princess. I’m ridiculously cheap and I hate people staring at me. And, yeah, this is a really buzz-kill, annoying thing to say, but I do find like half of wedding traditions to be really patriarchal and gross.

And yet, basically the second I had that ring on my finger, I found myself shouting “I’m engaged!” to everyone while holding out my hand, which is something I always said I wouldn’t do. For the past few days, I’ve barely slept because I’ve been spending my time thinking about what sorts of bridesmaids dresses I’ll choose. I’ve been visiting wedding blogs instead of writing. “You should try thinking about something else for awhile,” my mom suggested, and I think she’s right. It’s crazy how easy it was for me to get caught up in wedding frenzy, but I really need to step back and realize that it’s just one day. A fun and special day, hopefully, but one day just the same.

So, Welcome to Ladyville readers, I hope this is another fun thing we can go through together. Just like that time I was a maid of honor, I’m going pretty far out of my comfort zone. Hopefully the lessons I’ll be learning the hard way can help you out.

Here’s what my wedding goals are: to throw a fun party, with my family and close friends. To be surrounded by the people I love, and to cry a lot because I’m so happy. To have one of our best friends marry us, because you’d better believe we’re not getting married in a church (I’ve seen way too many ceremonies that involve a weird speech from the pastor about wives serving husbands. No thanks!). To spend time with my mom, mother-in-law, and BFF crafting cool, cheap wedding decorations. To not spend time or money on anything that’s unnecessary or just for show. To have a truly dirt-cheap wedding, not just a cheap-by-modern-standards wedding. To incorporate as many special keepsake projects into the ceremony as I can. To actually enjoy the process and use it as a chance to spend precious time with my loved ones, instead of it being a source of stress.

Oh, yeah, and to focus on this being the beginning of a caring, equal partnership with the love of my life. Well, not the beginning, really–we have been dating for 7 years! But a formal commitment, in front of everyone who loves us, that we’ll care about each other and help each other through happy times and shitty ones. Because that’s the point, right? I mean, the wedding is one measly day. I want it to be a great day, of course, but I plan on having a whole lot of other great days in my life, too. A marriage is a crazy commitment that lasts a whole lifetime, and I’m pretty sure when we’re 80, we won’t be thinking about what food we served at the wedding or whether or not the centerpieces looked good enough.

So that’s what I want to share with you guys! I hope you’ll be at least semi-interested in my weird wedding journey, and I promise to try to bring you some practical advice. Some not-totally-lame books and websites, some do-able craft projects, and tips for other ladies like me. Ladies who want to plan a cool, fun wedding but who don’t want to go crazy or go into debt or lose sight of their humanity in the process. And, most importantly, ladies who realize that weddings aren’t all that important in the long run, and that no one deserves to have some insane, magical day. I mean, I’m getting married, not winning the Nobel Peace Prize. I hope I can keep my sense of perspective throughout this process.

And, in case you wondered, I stand by every single thing I said in last Monday’s post! It’s lame when people butt into your life, especially your romantic life, and project their values on you. Now that I’m engaged and people can’t ask me about that anymore, I’m sure they’ll find new and inventive ways to judge my life decisions. That’s just the way of the world. I mean, several people have already mentioned children to me, so, you know.

So, you guys, I’m excited. It’s great to be engaged to a dude who proposes with a bookshelf, because woodworking is very “Bill Pullman in While You Were Sleeping,” and we all know how I feel about him. I promise to not turn WTLV into a wedding blog (I will be sharing another engagement story tomorrow, though. Sorry!), but hopefully you won’t be completely grossed out by a few wedding posts here and there.

The Quickest Way to Piss People Off Is to Not Get Married

In December, H. and I will have been together 7 years. And we are not married, a fact that every person I know reminds me of constantly.

I’m not saying we’re never going to get married. In fact, it will probably happen sooner rather than later. But people asking me when I’m going to get married bothers me, and it isn’t because I have problems with the institution of marriage itself (although that can be pretty problematic!) or the state of my relationship with my boyfriend (which is pretty swell!). Instead, my problem with people asking “When are you getting married?” is best summed up in two questions: “How is this your business?” and “Why do I have to get married?”

Growing up, I never dreamed of getting married. I assumed I would, because I grew up in a culture with a pretty traditional view of families, but it wasn’t something I daydreamed about. I never dressed up as a bride for Halloween. I didn’t “play house” much with other kids–mostly because because I rarely played with other children and preferred to hang out by myself, reading. Instead, I daydreamed about writing my first book (dorky but true).

Then, in high school, I became convinced I’d never get married. I simply could not imagine myself being happy as a married person. Let’s be real—I didn’t have any boyfriends (not even weird ones!) in high school, so it’s not like people were lining up to propose. But when I saw girls I knew getting married, like, right out of high school, I knew I would never do that. I saw myself as an adult living alone, being vaguely “artisitic,” probably wearing several jewel-toned scarves. I saw myself with a cat I named after a feminist writer, knowing things about wine, and entertaining many, many temperamental and volatile men who would inspire me to write the tempestuous prose and poetry I’d become known for. I saw myself being weird and alone and happy.

And then I met H. when I was 19, and we’ve been together ever since. You’d think this might be cause for celebration, and it is for me! But it’s not for almost literally every person I know, including but not limited to family, friends, and complete strangers.

I get asked what I’m waiting for, why I’m not married, why H. hasn’t proposed, why I haven’t forced him to propose, when I’m going to “just do it already,” and various other things. All of these questions are based around a few assumptions:

1. I have to get married.
2. I want to get married but H. will not ask me.
3. It’s normal for one person to force the other person to marry them.
4. Marriage is a box you need to check off your list.
5. If I’m not married it means I’m afraid of something.
6. I sit around all day and wait for H. to propose to me.
7. I am sad and pathetic.

Naturally, quite a few of these assumptions offend me, as a feminist and as a human being. For one, most of them put me in a passive role. Just sittin’ around waitin’ for the proposin’ to happen! Secondly, they assume that I need to complete this task in order to graduate to the next phase of my life. Simply put, this is people foisting their life values onto me, and I don’t appreciate it. A traditional life trajectory (marriage, house, babies) means a lot to some people, but it means very, very little to me. Do I want to have a house someday? Totally, but not anytime soon. Do I want kids? Yes, my biological clock reminds me of this every damn day, but not anytime even remotely soon. And do I want to get married? Sure, but it is not the end all, be all of my existence. There are a lot of things I want out of my life, and marriage is just one of the things on a long list that includes publishing a book, visiting a Scandinavian country, and finally successfully baking bread. And that’s where the assumption that offends me the most comes in. When people ask me these questions, what I hear from them is: Your achievements don’t matter to me. Your job, your friendships, your writing, your hopes, your dreams, your life that you’ve built yourself mean nothing, because you haven’t convinced someone to buy you jewelry and then spend many thousands of dollars on an expensive ceremony.

And as much as I’d like to be a super cool lady who can shrug off the narrow-mindedness of others, I’m just not that self-assured. It does not make me feel good when, unsolicited and on a regular basis, people let me know that my life is not measuring up to a standard I don’t even subscribe to. It’s weird, it’s patriarchal, it’s sexist, it’s dumb, and it’s just plain mean.

And you know what else it is? Really, really rude. In general, I think two questions should always be off limits except between very good friends: “When are you getting married?” and “When are you two having kids?” Both of those questions have the potential to be extremely upsetting! I mean, you guys, you don’t know if the couple you’re talking to had a fight that very morning about getting married. You don’t know if the couple you’re talking to recently found out they can’t have kids. You don’t know if they recently had a miscarriage—I mean, 1 in 5 pregnancies ends in miscarriage, you know? These are just rude, invasive, and nosy questions we should all stop asking.

Luckily for me, my close friends totally understand all of this. They’re a mix of married, single, engaged, and divorced people (divorced people are especially cool about not pressuring others to get married) who don’t see marriage as a just another box to check off on the list of life goals. That’s because my friends are awesome.

But, unfortunately, not everyone’s as cool, so I’ll just have to keep answering “So when are you getting married?” with a mixture of flip responses (“Whenever Drake asks me!”), frustrated answers (“When I feel like it.”), vague pleasantries (“Hahaha, someday!”), and subject changes (“Tell me more about your kids!”). It turns out that lecturing people about how their question offends me is not the best tactic to take when I’m talking to someone I’m probably going to have to see on a regular basis (like my grandma).

I love love. I love romance. I love romantic comedies, even (especially) the ones starring Katherine Heigl. I love reading the 50th anniversary announcements in the newspaper. I love seeing my friends get married! And, when I get married (someday!), you’d better believe I’m going to cry uncontrollably. But there’s a lot more to my life than that. I guess the good thing is that eventually, once I do get married, people will stop asking me about this. Then they’ll move on to asking me when I’m having kids. Something to look forward to!

Lady Film: Bachelorette

I’d heard a lot of things about Bachelorette before I saw it. Like how it was so dark and edgy, and the characters were unlikable, and there was rampant drug use. And of course it stars a whole slew of great, funny people, including Lizzy Kaplan, Isla Fisher, Rebel Wilson, Adam Scott, and Kirsten Dunst. You may remember that I have very intense feelings for Kirsten Dunst. I don’t know why; I just love her. Also, from now on, we will only refer to her as Kiki on WTLV. No looking back.

What I expected, after all those reviews that focused on how caustic it was, was a film like Young Adult. Charlize Theron’s character in that movie is such a monster of selfishness, and we see her a) admit why she became that way, b) get her comeuppance and c) refuse to change at all. But Bachelorette was totally not that kind of movie.

Was there drug use? Sure, but the film made it look extremely unappealing. Were three brittle-thin characters making mean fat jokes about their friend? Yes, but it was very obvious they were being shitty people trying to mask their own extreme unhappiness. Was James Marsden a totally date rape-y douche? Yes, but he wasn’t supposed to be a good character.

What Bachelorette had was semi-realistic characters making terrible decisions repeatedly, and I enjoyed every second of it. I think this movie was pretty great, and it’s far different from any other Crazy Wedding movie it’s been compared to. It all takes place the night before the wedding like The Hangover, but that’s where the similarities end. Whereas in The Hangover their problems are wedding-related and fixed by morning, the problems in Bachelorette go a lot deeper. It’s clear that these women aren’t going to get over their addictions, despair, self-loathing, and traumas overnight.

That being said, this is no Young Adult. It has a happy ending, for God’s sake! It was funny and it had a fairly conventional plot structure. So why did so many reviews focus on how “dark” and “edgy” and “unlikable” it was? Honestly, I really think most people don’t know how to handle a female character that acts like a human being.

I realize that’s not a new point. But it comes up over and over, whenever I see a review of a movie or television show with a female lead character who happens to be a little zany or annoying or anything other than Patricia-Heaton-on-Everybody-Loves-Raymond levels of accommodating. For example, I was reading an Entertainment Weekly article about the cancellation of Best Friends Forever (RIP, one of my favorite shows that was only 6 episodes long!) and a commentor mentioned that Jessica St. Clair’s character was too “annoying.” Well, yeah. That was kind of the point. What the hell sort of show would it be if everyone got along really well and never had any disagreements? I like to see movies and TV shows where weirdos rub up against each other and cause some drama. Otherwise, what’s the point?

So this is just to say that Bachelorette is a great movie. It’s a film that’s somewhat conventionally structured while still being different from other comedies. I enjoyed it, and not even just because of Kiki’s luminosity. Most of the credit goes to writer/director Leslye Headland. She presents women as flawed, messy beings, and not in the “I just can’t seem to stop running into things and I have frizzy hair!” way. Not that I don’t love that kind of movie, but I like watching things that show all different kinds of women. Headland’s characters are messed up in a very real, very serious way that either we or some of our friends probably are. I like her vision, and I can’t wait to see what else she does. Here’s something great she said in HuffPo:

“Women are much more under the microscope about moral behavior versus material success. Men can be assholes. We love Don Draper. We love the fact that he’s good at his job and he makes lots of money and he fucks women who aren’t his wife, and he gets drunk every day. We are so happy for him! He is living the American dream, as far as we’re concerned. And it’s not that I’m really complaining about that, it’s just that I want to know why this is the case. And I don’t think I really answered it with my film. I think I just may have started the beginning of a really long conversation.”

Welcome to Ladyville gives this one a SEE IT. I’m just kidding, you guys. Ugh. I will never start talking about movies like that. God knows it would be way too concise and readable. Instead I prefer to ramble on for several paragraphs about how much I love Kiki. Really, though, see this movie. It’s a fun lady cast, there’s Adam Scott (whom we all love), Glorious Kiki, and some really silly and funny musical choices. I’m giving Bachelorette the Welcome to Ladyville stamp of approval! Note to self: get stamp made.