A Practical Wedding: Creative Ideas for Planning a Beautiful, Affordable, & Meaningful Celebration

So hey, I’m engaged! Yay! Anyone reading this probably already knows that, but just wanted to reiterate. Upon getting engaged I have, as expected, received endless amounts of wedding tips and tricks from family, friends, co-workers and Pinterest, including this fabulous book. While discussing wedding plans with a fellow engaged co-worker she said this book kept her sane throughout her planning, so I felt super-cool for already having it on my nonfiction bookshelf. (Thank you again, friend who got me this book!)

Things I Like About The Book

1. It throws tradition out the window. I have never, ever, ever wanted the usual wedding spectacle that seems so popular these days, and this book reinforced how that is absolutely ok on almost every page. It also points out that the billion-dollar wedding industry has completely invented these so-called traditions everyone thinks they need to have; there’s even a neat little section on the history of weddings in America and how they have gone from actually rather simple affairs in people’s homes to these elaborate shows of money and style. I’m not saying I want to have my wedding at my or my fiance’s childhood home, or at our teeny-tiny apartment, but I do want to go back to basics: brief but meaningful ceremony, delicious food, fun party with lots of dancing.

2. It acknowledges the absent parent. It’s not a huge section, but there is some insight into wedding planning when you are missing one or both parents, or other relatives or friends you were close to. That is going to be very, very difficult for me, my mom and my sister on the day of and on all the days leading up to the wedding, as well as for other brides-to-be I know in similar situations. Ironically enough, the advice in this section is much like the general advice I’ve received from multiple sources since losing my dad: It’ll be hard, but I must tell people what I need. I must be clear with my fiancé, my bridesmaids, and probably many others about how I’m feeling and how they can help. That will be quite a challenge for me, but I will certainly try.

3. It reminds you that you’re getting married. Yes, there’s a whole big lifelong marriage type of thing after the snazzy pretty wedding. Crazy, right? While I do want to plan a good party for me, my fiancé, our families and friends, what I’m really excited about is marrying him. When the last drink is served and the last song played, we get to go be husband and wife, and buy a home and get a dog and go to Rome (he promised) and maybe (emphasis on the maybe) have children and, you know, BE MARRIED. There are many, many things we need to think and talk about pertaining to being a married couple that go beyond flower color and table settings. (Incidentally, the book provides a little checklist of questions/topics to discuss with your fiancé and a premarital counselor if you choose to go to one; I asked my fiancé the questions and we made jokes the whole way through, but I already knew his answer on every single issue. Yay us!)

Things I Don’t Like/Find Amusing About The Book

1. The “real wedding” budgets. Early in the book the author lists out real wedding costs from a few contributors (this book was put together from a blog) to show the various types of weddings you can have. One was under $10,000, one was about $15,000, and the “elaborate” one was $35,000. Not to sound like a Northeast snob, but $35,000? I can think of DOZENS of weddings I know for a fact cost at least double that, and many of the places I’ve looked at have site fees and minimums that far exceed $35,000, and that’s before bringing in any additional vendors like photographers and florists. The other day I read something on Twitter that said the average American wedding is now over $25,000 — what IS this conspiracy and where can I find these less expensive weddings? Kentucky? I don’t want to go to Kentucky. (No offense to Kentucky, I like Louisville, I just don’t want to get married there.)

2. Pressure to be unique. While this book throws tradition out the window and constantly reminds you that you can plan whatever kind of party you damn well want to, in doing so it places a bit of pressure on the reader to come up with unique ideas to make your wedding stand out. So, I now feel slightly inadequate that I won’t be renting food trucks or making my own paper flowers or having the wedding at a park with food from a local restaurant. Then again, none of the unique ideas stood out to me as things I, or my fiancé, would ever want to do. (Except maybe the park thing…)

3. It grew my to-do list. I have been very strict about the fact that before anything else, I need a venue and a date. I have accepted recommendations on music, photographers, hairstyles and honeymoons — it’s all on the spreadsheet — but I cannot allow my brain to venture into any other areas until a date is reserved and a contract signed. The book goes well beyond the aspects we’ve already thought of and explains that we need to write our wedding ceremony because we’re not doing a religious one. Um, what? Write a ceremony? Can’t the officiant do that? I know we’re writing our own vows, but what does writing a ceremony mean? WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?! Gah!

All in all, I really like this book, and I will absolutely refer to the website between now and next fall (desired wedding date) for more advice, tips, stories and budget amusement. Also, I just really like the fact that I can read this book and flip through bridal magazines for a real reason now, and apply it to my actual life instead of fantasizing about some day. Some day is HERE, people!

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