Tying the Knot in a Meaningful and Memorable Way (Without Losing Our Savings or Sanity)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Q & A

Hooray! I already have an excellent question from a reader.

Kristen asked: "Were there times that you would look at the bridal 'porn' out there and lose your mind for half a second before coming back down to earth?"

The short answer? Yes, yes, yes. And another yes.

The wonderful thing about the World Wide Web is that it reveals so many options and lets you dwell in possibility. The downside of all this choice, however, is that you end up doubting yourself and dwelling in insecurity.

For example, I bought my dress early in the wedding planning process because it was on the Target clearance rack for $15. I didn't have time to do a lot of comparison and exploration. Matt and I began the design and embroidery process right away since we knew it would take a lot of time. Once we started, it felt like there was no turning back.

However, I doubted my choice many times. I would see longer dresses or more vintage dresses or more creative dresses and wonder why I had rushed into my choice. Several times I read a new wedding profiled on Offbeat Bride and regretted my decision. I even thought my dress made me look a little fat (and Matt agreed that I looked "a little bigger than usual"!).

And the stationary! I am a paper fiend and looking at all the aesthetically pleasing design options made me wonder why we ever went with hand-painted postcards. And why did we go with electronic Save the Date cards rather than photo booth pics?

And even looking at other people's weddings through the lens of a professional photography has--at times--given me second thoughts about going with friends.

But the truth is, there's always going to be something better. There's always going to be another possibility. In a consumer culture, there's always something to "trade up." And, honestly, when I look back at my wedding photos (artfully captured by friends and family), I think my dress looks lovely. It was comfortable (see all the dancing pictures), it suits the occasion (in the ceremony pictures it fits right in with the woodsy background), and it was meaningful (many friends and family asked me to explain to them what the embroidery signified along the bottom).

When I suffered from an acute case of Wedding Porn Envy, I had to listen to the Jiminy Cricket in my head saying things like, "Sara, don't obsess about the wrong things. You want your wedding to be about authenticity and connection, not flowers and wedding favors."

We wanted to buy a house right after we got married. We also wanted to pay for the whole thing ourselves so we could make all the decisions and ensure that the wedding represented us. That left us with approximately $2,000. And, honestly, it's only one day. And even $2,000 is a lot of money. We could have purchased four dairy cows from Heifer International: "A good dairy cow can produce four gallons of milk a day - enough for a family to drink and share with neighbors. Milk protein transforms sick, malnourished children into healthy boys and girls. The sale of surplus milk earns money for school fees, medicine, clothing and home improvements. And because a healthy cow can produce a calf every year, every gift will be passed on and eventually help an entire community move from poverty to self reliance." Spending lots of money on one day feels pretty self-indulgent in the face of the world's realities.

Also, when I look at the glossy photos of other people's weddings, I often wonder about the story that isn't told. The fights with the parents about various decisions. The discomfort that comes from wearing a dress you can't even put on yourself. The sheer exhaustion that has built up from a year of planning, obsessing, and haggling with vendors.

We tell ourselves we need to read wedding magazines or websites for ideas, but the truth is they do more damage than good. I've even had doubts about publishing a daily blog about weddings. No one should be thinking about weddings every day!

When I lose my mind for that half second that you described, I usually just close my browser, shut my computer, snuggle up to my partner, and just breathe.

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Meg said...

I agree with your sentements in general, and I think you said it well. But on the flip side, I think it's important to remember that people can spend different amounts of money (and for different reasons) and still make things work out in a calm simple manner. For us, our parents wanted to feed people a bit more formally then we might have cared about, and have a lot of relatives, and were willing to help pay for that option, so that is fine for us. We wanted to have the wedding where we lived, as opposed to where our parents lived, which was a bit more expensive, but we were willing to pay for that bit, so it worked out. So, my point is, it's ok for different couples to make different choices. And more expensive doesn't always mean the wrong priorities (though, clearly, it can).
Another thing people often assume is that if you take a long time to plan a wedding, that's bad, and you are going to obsess and stress. And again, I think that totally depends on the person. I like planning over a long period of time, it's far more relaxing for me. So a long engagment was perfict. But on the flip side, I totally understand how for a lot of people a short planning period helps them focus on what's important.

Anyway, good post, and I'm really enjoying your break down and recap of your wedding. It's thoughtful and (obviously, given the length of my comment) thought provoking.

KRISTIN said...

OMG! Thank you for posting my question. It's EXACTLY what I needed to hear. I just finished my last day as a social worker for DC's Child and Family Services to move on to social work in an elementary school. My FI is a high school band director. We are both passionate about what we do--working with kids! But that doesn't leave a lot of extra money for big floral centerpieces and large wedding albums. I get bummed sometimes, but I try to focus on what matters most. I get to spend the REST OF MY LIFE with Erik. I mean, what could be better than that? I've loved him with my whole heart for 8 years...and I get to do it forever?!?! I'll take the small wedding and read your post over and over again until through June 20, 2009!

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