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13 Things I've Learned In One Month Of Wedding Planning
Right after Brian and I got engaged — like while we were still on the top of the mountain — we made four immediate phone calls: to my mom, to my dad, to my BFF Michael, and to Brian’s mom.
After we got breakfast and very indulgent 90-minute massages, we made the rest of the “important” calls — starting with the three grandmas (I have two, he has one). They all wanted to know if we had a date yet.
“Um, nope, not yet…because we have only been engaged for three hours…and we’re in Hawaii…so no, unfortunately we have not yet sat down to work out the logistics of a wedding.”
And I know that’s par for the course. Everyone says, “Don’t jump right into wedding planning! Enjoy being engaged!” They follow that up with, “Do you guys have a date? What’s your color scheme?”
Brian and I have been engaged for a month and a half now (whoa what?), and I’m excited to report that we are very close to locking down our date (fall 2015!) and venue, and I have a whole bunch of dress shopping appointments next weekend. We’re making progress without driving ourselves crazy. Yay!
We see eye-to-eye on pretty much everything, which is a big plus, and when we don’t necessarily agree exactly, Brian is pretty quick to say, “Whatever you want!” But truthfully, all I want is a great party.
I thought I would be an awesome bride with all these great visions and creative ideas, but instead I just want to hand it all over to someone else. For free. I’ve learned quite a bit about wedding planning, all of which I’m sure will make you say, “Yeah, no kidding” if you’ve already been through this. But nonetheless, here’s what I’ve learned in 1.5 months of wedding planning…
1. So about Pinterest. I decided to join because I thought it would be inspiring and pretty and would give me good ideas when I had none. It was fun at first, and all those DIY projects seemed totally attainable and easy.
But now it’s completely overwhelming. Those DIY projects? Not so attainable. Glitter is messy. Our wedding will very likely not be “Pinterest perfect.” Oh, and that is an actual term they use in all those wedding magazines.
2. Those wedding magazines are a waste of money (they’re like $9.99 each and they’re massive!), and everything in them is insane (come on, absurd fashion spreads), but I love them and I keep buying them every time I set foot in Duane Reade. I tell myself this is the only time in my life I’ll get to buy these pretty glossy magazines, so I keep doing it.
3. The wedding industry is kind of a scam. I mean…right? I knew that going into this — that the minute you say you’re having a party and they ask if it’s a “wedding,” the price instantly gets jacked up by thousands of dollars. So many things are measured in thousands of dollars, not hundreds of dollars or tens of dollars or ones of dollars. Thousands. So many thousands.
4. Some people won’t be happy for you at all when you get engaged! The great thing is that you don’t have to invite them to your wedding. Yay! You can walk home, bitches!
5. The people who love you most will support your decisions and won’t complain. I found this really beautiful venue that I loved and could totally picture for our wedding. The only drawback was that it was in Vermont. Like really really far from New York City, and not actually near any friends or family members. It would’ve practically been a destination wedding, which we did not want to do. Still, I was pursuing it and set up an appointment to see it, and my parents were going to meet me there, and they were being super nice about it.
At the last minute — like the night before I was supposed to head north — I decided it was way too much of an effort. I didn’t want to get married in Vermont and it was too far and I couldn’t ask my friends to go that far, especially since many of them live in NYC and don’t have cars. It wasn’t until Vermont was completely off the table that my parents confessed they didn’t think it was a brilliant idea, but that they were just being supportive. They are great. I appreciated that.
6. Barns are trendy and “rustic chic” is a very popular thing right now. I did not know this. When Brian and I first started discussing what in the world kind of wedding we would have, he said he liked the idea of doing it “in a barn or somewhere cool.” We knew we didn’t want a big ballroom or anything that felt “like a wedding venue,” and thought a barn was a unique idea. Guess what? It’s not. At all. Everyone is getting married in barns right now. Barns are having a moment!
And for that reason, a barn on a piece of private property in the middle of nowhere (but within, say, two hours of NYC) can run you up to $20,000. And that includes nothing. That’s just the barn. The big, empty barn. Bring your own linens. Bring your own food. Bring your own booze. Bring your own glassware for the booze. Bring your own servers, chairs, and silverware.
7. Venue shopping is a lot like New York City apartment hunting. When I first started making calls, the people I spoke with would either laugh when I asked “if they had fall 2015 availability, Saturdays only,” or tell me that they had “only one date still open, but there are several other brides who are interested, so we need to come see it and put down a deposit immediately.” It felt very scary and cutthroat. Be aggressive. Be-e aggressive.
Ultimately, though, the venue we found and are pursuing was the opposite of this, and the people are so nice and laid back and are letting us have total free rein over the entire place for the night. Score one for Ali and Brian.
8. I am — so far — a way more low-maintenance bride than I expected to be. Like I said, I thought I would have a lot of cool ideas and instead I’m exhausted just thinking about it all. I care about the big picture, but not so much about all the little details.
I thought I must have dreamed about my wedding at some point during childhood or early adolescence, but apparently I wasn’t specific enough during those daydreams, or I should have taken better notes. Because now I’m supposed to have a “clear vision” and a “color scheme” and OMG I just don’t care. I don’t care at all, and so many strangers and vendors are curious to know what my “color palette” is going to be.
I don’t care about flowers and plan to only have them for my bouquet and my bridesmaids’ bouquets. I’m also not particularly interested in linens. It’s just a party. A low-key, super fun party. The industry sure does try to put pressure on you to make a lot more of it! (And for a lot of people that’s fun, and power to them. Go team. Go bride go.)
9. I feel weird calling myself a “bride.”
10. People straight up feed you champagne. I’ve had more champagne in the past month and a half than I had had in the entire previous year. I don’t mind this part of engaged life one bit.
11. I don’t want anything about our wedding to cutesy-ly be about running or cycling. This apparently surprises people? Running and cycling are our hobbies and we are passionate about them, but I am not wearing Pure Flows underneath my dress and Brian is — to my knowledge — not wearing a helmet to our reception. But he should. That would be amazing.
Cycling and running are not our defining characteristics. What defines me is 20 years of classical dance training and a complete inability to casually freestyle on a dance floor. So get excited for that, party guests. I’ve got jazz hands and a solid shimmy, but that’s about it. I’m all upper body.
12. Engaged life is actually pretty awesome. I do mean this in the cheesiest way possible, and hopefully you don’t want to punch me yet for being giddy and annoying all the time. (Or, if you do want to punch me, hopefully you don’t know where I live.)
Since we got engaged, Brian and I have been generally acting like fools. We smile a lot and giggle a lot and are really really extra super nice to each other. I no longer yell at him for leaving hundreds of those clear little plastic collar-stays from his button-down shirts all over our bedroom floor (seriously, what is that habit?), and he doesn’t get mad at me for being perfect and sweet all the time (it can be hard to live up to the standard I set, I imagine). We’ve both just been happy and are enjoying the little “newly-engaged phase.”
13. I do, in fact, care very much about a few things. I’m not totally anti-bride or lazy-bride or “no please don’t throw me a shower” bride. I want a very personal ceremony (I’m a writer; you bet I’m writing my own vows and yes I already have notes and they are 80% funny/sarcastic/jokes, and 20% quotes from Pitch Perfect and/or Celine Dion lyrics), an open bar (done), great music (not done, because I don’t know yet if Celine and Enrique Iglesias and Pitbull are all free that day), one very specific photographer (she said yes!), and a top-notch wedding video (finding this person is Brian’s project).
I also care about marrying Brian. That’s the point of all this, right? I’m pretty pumped about it.
I asked Brian if he had anything to contribute to this post, or any thoughts he would like to share. Here is what he said:
- “I’ve realized I’m in the wrong industry.”
- “If wedding planning were a Facebook relationship, I’d change my status to ‘It’s complicated.’ “
- “One year is enough time to write a novel, learn to fly, learn a new language, train a horse, build a house, start a charity, travel the world, or get an online degree. But it’s apparently not enough time to book a wedding venue.”
- “There’s a barn shortage in the tri-state area.”
So there you have it. To quote Kris Kardashian Jenner, “We’re having a wedding!” She said that when Kim and Kanye got engaged. The Kardashians love weddings. Also divorces, though… And sex tapes!
HAVE YOU BEEN MARRIED OR BEEN TO A WEDDING? I’m keeping a lot of the wedding details we do have nailed down mostly private because I’m trying to avoid having people weigh in and give me their opinions I don’t really want. But one thing I am loving asking people who have either planned weddings or been to lots of weddings (which we’ve certainly done the latter!) these questions…
What was your favorite part of your wedding? (Most people say their ceremony! Love that.)
What would you have done differently about your wedding? (The most common answers so far are “invite fewer people,” “spend less money on flowers,” and “get a wedding video, because I didn’t think I wanted one and now I really wish I had one.”)
What was the best wedding you’ve been to and why was it awesome?
Now you do it. You answer the questions. BE HELPFUL.
Remember when this used to be a running blog? It will be again! Eventually. Hopefully soon! I’m in the midst of taking some time off right now to give my body a little break, and once we figure out when we’re definitely having this wedding, I can make some race plans for 2015. Yay! Running!