A Practical Wedding: Creative Ideas for Planning a Beautiful, Affordable, and Meaningful Celebration by Meg Keene
I’ve been reading Meg Keene’s blog A Practical Wedding, since 2009, when I was engaged and looking for help staying sane while wedding planning. I even have it first on my blogroll down on the right margin. When her book came out in December, I bought two copies on the Great APW book buy day, and gave them away to brides for Christmas before I had a chance to read one for myself. (I also suggested to a coworker that she get one for her son’s fiance, and she did.)
The APW book is a needed counterweight to the wedding industry’s salesspeak and consumerism. It deconstructs the sales pitches brides and grooms are likely to hear, so that companies won’t bamboozle a young couple with talk of how “it’s your day!” and “it will look like a conference room without chair covers.” The book tells you what you need to know to DIY everything, but tells you not to DIY for the sake of DIY, and to get help if you want to DIY. It doesn’t glorify any particular aesthetic, pointing out that indie and “blog-chic” can be just as oppressive as more classic choices, if you’re not picking them for the right reasons.
Most of all, the book helps you deal with the emotional and relationship problems that wedding planning creates, instead of just logistical issues. There is advice for dealing with parents and wedding party members, how to stand up for yourself and how to talk to people who tell you your wedding is “wrong” or “not traditional enough.” For example, if you’re fighting with your mom about what to serve at the reception, you should ask her why a full dinner is so important to her. She might say something about showing off for her friends, or avoiding their judgement. It’s about social status signaling for her. Once you know that, you can think of ways to “signal” without having a full dinner, if you don’t want one. Maybe it means appetizers that have fancier ingredients, but are no more expensive.
My favorite chapter is “One Wonderful, Wildly Imperfect Day.” It gives some helpful info on scheduling and coordination, then dives into one of the most important ideas I found on APW. Being emotionally present, living fully in that moment, on your wedding day is the way to make that day as joyful and exploding with happiness as it should be. There’s no substitute for “wedding zen,” and no way to buy it either. The ending of the book gives the perspective that brides sometimes lose: it’s not about one day, it’s about the rest of your life.
The only thing that could make me more excited about this book is to have another engaged lady to give a copy (I’m looking at you, parents of my niece…)