And because I am me, my first step in a huge undertaking is sussing out books on the subject (did the same thing when I moved to NYC). Due to our realistic budget and general non-buying-into the Wedding-Industrial Complex's soul-sucking (and vaguely misogynistic) materialism, said books are focused on creativity, bargains, and niceness. Here are three reads that have been reassuring, wise and helpful thus far.
First up, Meg Keene's fantastic A Practical Wedding, based on her blog of the same name. This is a wedding book that starts off by talking about joy, and ends with embracing imperfection and the knowledge that the wedding is a blip in your married life. Great stuff, and very thoughtful about both logistical concerns and the strange alchemy of marriage, where two people become one unit. She also provides a clear overview of how U.S. weddings have actually been held over time--a century ago, almost everyone got married at home, wearing their best clothes, whatever color they happened to be--to keep in mind when worrying about tradition. Best advice:
- You won't remember how your wedding looks; you'll remember how it feels.
- A good way to plan the event? Think of the parties the two of you usually have. Then just scale it up.
- Pay attention to the ceremony itself! That's the real thing; the rest just celebrates it.
I also enjoyed Denise and Alan Fields' Bridal Bargains, which as the title implies concentrates on inexpensive alternatives to the all-out debt-incurring bashes sold by the WIC. I skimmed over a lot that didn't apply to us--I'm wearing my mom's dress, for instance, so I skipped the gowns chapter--but there's a lot of good and specific advice to be gleaned, and a total willingness to name names. Definitely worth a look if you're not rolling in dough.
And I haven't re-read it yet, but Miss Manner's Guide to a Surprisingly Dignified Wedding came out while my sister and brother-in-law were in the midst of the planning process, and as the maid of honor, I read it for backup. It is scathingly hilarious (as is Ms. Martin's wont) and eminently practical. The largest lesson to take from this one is that etiquette aims to make people contented and comfortable, not stressed or humiliated. And asking people for money is the height of tackiness. (She even thinks registries are tacky, but admits that they're so expected one might as well create one . . . just only tell people about it if they ask.) Can't wait to re-traipse through, laughing and thinking, "Well, at least I'm not these people." Just like watching Toddlers & Tiaras!