The Edition: No. 112

Jul 16, 2019

There are many men of principle in both parties in America, but there is no party of principle. — Alexis de Tocqueville

Woke. Why I ditched the idea of a ‘Dream Job’.

Bagged. A modern, professional satchel with Celine-inspired details, just $75.

Dated. On the joys of being single (and dating) in your 30s.

Dressed. This Factory maxi dress and printed wrap dress are perfect for summer.

Turned. Why is it so hard to finish a notebook? (Also, my favorite notebooks.)

Topped. This ice-blue pintuck blouse and printed, flutter-sleeve blouse are both under-$100 from Anthropologie.

Waged. The unpaid-labor (aka. housework) gap is not improving, but why?

Heeled. These Nine West Dylan pumps are a dead-ringer for my favorite pumps.

Traveled. Going on vacation won’t cure your burn out.

We are seven weeks out from the wedding.  Last week, I woke up from my campaign-induced coma, and realized nothing for this wedding is finalized.  Cue the stress nightmares.

This article, In Defense of Bridezillas, resonated with me so much.  Because wedding planning, even the barely 30-percent that I’m responsible for, sucks.  It’s just one more double standard for women where nothing we do is right.

As a bride, you want everyone to have a fun time.  You want the food to be good.  And you want the whole thing to go off without a hitch (as much as possible).  But when you verbalize your wedding-related insecurities, the advice most people offer is: As long as you two end up married at the end of the night, that’s all that matters.

The people who offer brides this advice are both correct and well-intentioned.  Many are former brides trying to remind their new counterparts that marriage is what weddings are supposed to be about.  But society decided long ago that weddings are parties, as divorced from the importance of marriage as elections are from the importance of governing.

When a bride is deep in the throes of planning, the advice to focus on what “matters” feels more judgmental than comforting.

All a bride hears is that her money, time, stress, and effort don’t matter.  That she failed to understand what was important.  And, far from soothing, this advice makes a bride feel like she was wrong to go to all this trouble.  That, if she had just had a healthier perspective, she could have been one of those cool brides who married at the courthouse wearing a dress from the back of her closet.

But most of the people telling brides to focus on what matters are the same people who ask if you’re having a photo booth, what kind of cake you’re serving, who designed your dress, and whether you’re having an open bar, because cash bars are “tacky.”  And many of them would be telling the bride how sad they were that they couldn’t attend her wedding if she had eloped.

Yes, I’ll wake up on September 2nd married even if the tent burns down, everyone gets food poisoning, and the DJ plays the medley from Grease on repeat.  And yes, I could have gone to the Taco Bell Wedding Chapel in Vegas, but I wanted to have the same beautiful, fun-filled celebration that I’ve attended so many times.  And wanting a beautiful wedding doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten what matters.

So thank you to all of the brides who planned the weddings I’ve attended, big and small, homemade and store-bought.  I didn’t realize how much went into making your big day a wonderful celebration for everyone else.  And if you want to offer a stressed out bride comfort, skip the part where you remind her what matters, and tell her that you’re sure the wedding will be beautiful and that it will all be worth it.

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  1. Caroline says:

    Love this take on wedding planning.

  2. cara says:

    Have a great wedding! It will all be wonderful!

  3. Caroline (#2) says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this, I agree 100%. People love to poke fun at people (mostly the bride) getting stressed out by wedding planning but also love to complain at weddings when things don’t go perfectly. Wedding planning for me was so exhausting; I was actually seriously burned out after my wedding that it’s made it hard to finish thank you notes.

  4. Cait says:

    As someone who is just in the initial stages of wedding planning but has already broken down in tears >5 times, thank you for this. The phrase “wanting a beautiful wedding doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten what matters” perfectly describes what I’ve been feeling.

  5. Em says:

    My wedding was in April so I still have flashbacks to the stress you’re dealing with but trust me that it’ll all turn out fabulous. Things will go wrong, but only you will notice, everyone will just be happy to celebrate your love. Meanwhile you’ll be a whole new kind of happy that I can’t even describe and won’t care about anything but enjoying the evening that will go by MUCH too quickly.

    SO excited for you! It’ll be great!

    • Anna says:

      I once attended an outdoor wedding where there was a torrential downpour smack in the middle of the reception. The bride was so upset and thought her wedding was ruined, but the band kept playing, the bar moved to under a cover, we danced in the rain, and it was still one of the most fun weddings I’ve been to.

      • Ana says:

        I went to a wedding in a Texas that took place the same weekend as a very big storm. Most of the guests were coming from out of town and got diverted to a different airport. We rented cars and some people grouped up to make it to the wedding city. The outdoor venue was super muddy because of the storm. The bride and groom had arranged buses to the venue, but the buses couldnt make it all the way in because of the muddy roads so we transferred to smaller vehicles. The caterer was on the fence as to whether they could make it to the venue with all their equipment. What we most remember is the bride and how happy and genuinely thankful she was that we were all there. Her calmness was contagious. She swapped out her footwear for cowboy boots and we all
        had a blast. You go through the stress of planning it, and once the day comes it’s all about your outlook. I hope you too will have a fabulous day Abra!

    • MRR says:

      Keeping with this trend, I once went to a wedding where the reception venue was wiped out the night of the rehearsal dinner by a tornado. I remember driving home after the rehearsal and thinking “wow this is a bad storm” but was still shocked when I heard the news about the venue. They didn’t tell the bride until after the ceremony and by then the contingency plan was in process…luckily the reception company had an alternative venue slightly farther away and everything went off relatively smoothly. In the end, the bride said she thought it probably ended up nicer than what she had originally planned.

      There was a big snow storm the day/night of my wedding . This was fine, but it was followed by 3 days of -40ish temperatures and we found out 2 hours before leaving for our honeymoon that our flight was canceled, with the offered alternative getting us to our final destination 2 days later than intended (and, that flight ended up being canceled as well). We ended up hopping a southwest flight into a nearby airport and somehow still made our original connecting flight!

      All that to say, things do generally work out one way or another! Wedding planning is more stressful than I ever imagined (and I had a very casual wedding that was basically just a fancy cocktail party), but the day of everything kind of just was what it was. Your wedding will be beautiful and worth it (and if you’re anything like me you will be THRILLED when it’s over)!

  6. Meghan says:

    I got married in May, so I definitely empathize. FWIW, this is the most insightful thing I read about the whole process all along. Thanks for always getting to the heart of things with grace. It is deeply valued!

  7. Emily says:

    As somebody who just got married two weeks ago, I can tell you that it will all be worth it! Your wedding will be lovely and guests will have a fabulous time!

  8. Gretchen says:

    As someone who still stresses out over dinner parties, this makes a ton of sense. 😉

    One suggestion – not for planning, but for after – take time after the wedding to write down all the details. Not just the guest list, or the presents, but every detail you remember. With time, the things that stressed me out (the cake didn’t rise? how is that possible? who decided we should have flowers in our hair..?!?) became funny anecdotes that made it “my” wedding and not someone else’s. Was it perfect? No. But years later, it’s real, not an instagram-perfect event, which is what mattered to me.

  9. anna c says:

    Wow that “Dating in Your 30s” article really resonates with me…. I may have to bookmark that to reread later.

    Also your take on wedding planning is lovely, and I may send that to a friend of mine.

  10. E says:

    I never really realized what a double standard wedding planning was until you framed it that way (and now it seems so obvious, how had I NOT realized that?!?). Your wedding WILL be amazing and your guests WILL indeed have a fabulous time. The other commenters are correct that things will go wrong that no one will notice and I will add that the things that will go wrong will be the things you could not anticipate (i.e. my mom twisted her ankle en route to walk me down the aisle so my now husband was standing at the altar wondering where the heck we were!). So I’m here to offer encouragement and an “I feel ya”–wedding planning felt like a second job that I was completely incompetent at. But yes, it will all come together and you and your family/guests will have a lovely time celebrating.

  11. J May says:

    Unexpectedly went from ‘not yet engaged’ to ‘engaged and our wedding is in 8 weeks’ over the last week… I totally needed this right now as I’m knee deep in this not only from other people, but also snarky vendors.

  12. s-p-c says:

    At our wedding, we had multiple minor disasters (kid tripped a wire and cut off of first dance music; ran out of white wine on a hot day and our best man had to procure more) and people still tell us many years later that they loved our wedding and had the best time. I credit my maid of honor, who said just have a great time yourself no matter what happens, and everyone else will look to you and do the same. It will be beautiful and worth it!

  13. anna says:

    That dream job article really hit home. After reaching complete burnout at what I thought was my dream job on the Hill, I realized that I was sick of my life revolving around my job. Now, I instead think about the kind of life I want to have and how my job fits into that. And it isn’t just money and location, it’s also how physically active I want to be, the kind of people I want to be around, how mobile my profession is. It’s helped me be ok with jobs that aren’t necessarily “dream jobs” but compliment other aspects of my life and also figure out where I want my career to go next.

  14. Courtney says:

    Former wedding planner here, and I can honestly say every wedding is wonderful. The small, the big, the inexpensive and the over the top, even the ones with Cleopatra officiating(yup, that happened). Perfection is NEVER actually achieved as we think of it, but it most certainly is in the realness and intimacy of the act a wedding invites others into. Your wedding will be. Whatever that is, it is, but it will be. My hope for you is you enjoy it all.

  15. Pam says:

    Agreed that the focus on what matters comment can get on your nerves when there are so many things and details to plan.

    How about we change the statement to …

    Enjoy is what matters – and by that a mean when the planning is done just enjoy every little part of the wedding. It will not be perfect, mistakes and mishaps might happen but it will be out of your control and more importantly it is the evening you want to cherish forever.

    Hope you have a beautiful, heart felt and romantic wedding surrounded by all the oriole you care.

  16. R says:

    Wedding planning is so stressful, but if it makes you feel better, the things people fondly remember about my wedding 24 years ago are the things that weren’t quite right. The flower girl pulling her headpiece apart during the ceremony, the ring bearer quadruple knotting the ring to the pillow and then asking the officiant if he wanted help, running out of food (!) and ordering from the Little Caesar’s down the street – everyone still had a great time, there are always lots of laughs when we look back, and we have had a long and happy marriage. It is hard to hear when you are in the thick of it, but breathe deep and enjoy the day!

  17. KateL says:

    You nailed it with the double standards and “helpful” comments. The other side of the equation is that people forget to be gracious guests – wedding is black tie? Buy/borrow/rent a fancy dress and roll with it. It’s in a field and might rain? Figure out what shoes you don’t mind trashing and again roll with it. People will make choices you wouldn’t but they have invited you to share their day – attend or not; just keep your opinions to yourself!

  18. karen says:

    Agree on your take with wedding planning. I was very concerned with planning an experience that would be enjoyable for my guests. What I came to realize is that they had a good time when I had a good time. People really wanted me and my husband (and family) to have a lovely day that we enjoyed. When we did, they had an awesome time celebrating our happiness with us. I thought it would be the food, the music or the beautiful setting that would make them enjoy themselves. But instead, it was being a guest in this event of us…of sharing the time together and enjoying the moments. Good and comical.

  19. cait says:

    It’s a very special moment when you see all the details you care about, and stressed about, and made decisions about, come together and you see it live, in person and you see your guests experiencing them.

    Yes, the wedding is about you and your soon-to-be. Yes, the marriage is obviously the primary focus, not the one day event. But when you spend all the time/money/energy/brainpower on said event, you want it to go well. There is nothing diva, bridezilla or whatever about feeling that way.

    My advice: focus on the details that matter most to you. Whether it be food, hair, shoes, whatever. Those will be the ones you appreciate the most and will be happy you spent the time on getting them “just so”.

  20. Jen says:

    I kept hearing “it’s just one day” and heard people say they wish they had spend less money. I actually wish I had put a little more effort in to my wedding. It’s perfectly okay to want it to be special!

    My advice: schedule some time to decompress before the wedding. (I would have scheduled some serious spa time if I could do it again). I was so tired and worried about minor details in the days leading up to the wedding that when I see my pictures I can tell how tired I was. I also should have taken more time off work before the wedding. What was so important that I felt like I needed to get in a few more billable hours? Who cares?

    Those last minute details I procrastinated on: ceremony programs, finalizing our vows and having them printed, cash envelopes for tips, gifts for the wedding planners, bridesmaids, hostess of the bridal luncheon. Take care of that stuff weeks or months earlier if you can. I also waited too long to start tanning (yes, I sinned and went to the tanning bed for the first time since I was a teen, it was worth it).

    Another tip, I started feeling wedding overload toward the end. I unfollowed all the wedding accounts I had been following on social media. Not every detail of my wedding was going to be “insta-worthy” and I needed to cut it out to stop comparing.

  21. Becky says:

    Belle, I so wish your wedding had been a few months before mine instead of a few months after because I’ve loved your planning tidbits and insights.

    I was not prepared for people asking after the wedding how things went (which to me feels like they are asking what went wrong!). In hindsight, nothing “went wrong.” There were a couple hiccups, like me falling down the stairs during our first look, but now that’s one of my favorite pictures and strongest memories.

    Keep as chill or unchill as you want. Cry as much as you need because you’re stressed. Know there will always be a critic because they would have selected something different, but that’s the whole point: you’re choosing what reflects you and Kyle best.

    The great compliment I received about our wedding is how “us” it was. I was nervous because it was formal and traditional, and thought people would translate that to boring compared to the ideas you see on pinterest, but instead guests appreciated that the details reflected who we are. I can’t wait to see as much as you’re willing to share about what reflects the two of you!

  22. Jennifer says:

    Dear Abra,

    As a long time follower of your blog, I can only imagine your wedding will be equally classy and beautiful. I don’t think you are capable of doing anything otherwise. I’m sending you lots of positive vibes for September 2nd and beyond.

    • Belle says:

      It’s just more about finishing everything in the time allotted. Six weeks alternately feels like tomorrow, and no time at all.

  23. Jules says:

    It’s interesting to hear your point of view. I didn’t realize it was so stressful to some brides?
    I didn’t have a wedding planner and DIY’ed many things but I don’t remember feeling any sort of stress or worry about how it would turn out. We all went surfing after, and I drove my VERY drunk father home.

    From what you’ve written, it sounds like you’re worried about how you’ll react to your guest’s reactions and judgements about your wedding. It kind of sounds like you’re predicting how you’ll feel depending on how others feel. If it helps at all – the thing that has hepled me a lot in life is this – regardless of how ‘perfect’ or not at all perfect somethings is, people will react, and it’s got nothing to do with you. If people will judge regardless, you may as well do whatever the heck you please:) So just focus on doing only the things you think will make you happy.

    it POURED RAIN during my ceremony and we all got drenched and my husband’s nipples were showing like some sort of wet-tshirt contest and all our make up ran – but you know what? We had a grand old time. It’ll work out 🙂

    • Jenny says:

      You didn’t realize that some brides have found wedding planning stressful? I have to wonder how many other brides you’ve talked to, because almost every person I know found the planning stressful at SOME point. Even my friend who eloped was somewhat stressed about that decision! But glad it was stress-free for you. I don’t think it is for most people, including grooms.

  24. CocO says:

    The best piece of advice that I got before my wedding 14 years ago was that something will go wrong (or there will be some type of glitch) and you just need to go with the flow/let it go. And it did — at the ceremony, the officiant referred to my sister (my MOH) rather than me (as in, “ we are here to join [husband’s name] and [sister’s name]”). In addition, my cell phone rang DURING the ceremony; I had forgotten to put it on vibrate and/or turn it off. I had a very distinctive song ringtone and it was slightly mortifying as we all tried frantically to find my phone and silence it. Now these stories are funny and memorable for us.

    A wedding is a big life event. Of course you want it to go well, reflect your vision and style, and celebrate this new chapter of your relationship. There’s nothing wrong with that. I don’t regret the roughly two years of my life that went into planning the wedding. It was a great day and, to this day, family and friends tell us what a great wedding it was and how much fun they had at the reception.

    Judgment seems to exist in every corner of major life events, decisions, circumstances, etc. It’s similar with parenthood – at least the wedding day comes and goes!!!

  25. Lily says:

    IMO, the same people that tell you to chill out about wedding planning are the ones who will complain if things aren’t 100% organized and picture-perfect. Brides really can’t win.

    We’re in the middle of wedding planning also, and it’s overwhelming and high-pressure and expensive, yet you are supposed to be having the time of your life…lol please. It can be kinda fun sometimes, but it’s WORK with a real monetary value (some people have whole careers in event planning).

  26. Jenny says:

    Planning a gigantic party is stressful. I don’t care how “laid-back” or “casual” or “chill” someone is — there are a lot of details, it’s expensive, and it carries way more significance than any other big party. Somehow you will get it all done, but yeah, it’s a lot.

  27. irmck says:

    I wish I had been more of a bridezilla at my wedding. Because I wasn’t, I missed out on some photos that I knew I wanted because I didn’t want to tell the photographer (that we were paying) what to do.

    There were a ton of things that went wrong, but the only ones I regret were the ones where I had an opinion but was too afraid to share it.

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