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

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Aesthetics and Sentiment

Meg over at A Practical Wedding is running a great feature right now: Brides who have made it to the other side and have come back to share their post-wedding wisdom.

It's refreshing to hear them echo much of the same sentiment again and again: the details don't matter as much as we thought they did before the wedding. Community, connection, commitment, and fun do.

It's easy to see why the details feel like they matter. There is a multi-billion dollar industry that bombards us with magazines, TV shows, and advertisements that scream: "The details are everything!" The professional photography that we see from weddings exacerbates the situation: the shoes, the centerpieces, the cake...all of these images convince us that our guests really are looking at those things. And if our guests are looking at those things, then we sure as heck better focus on them.

There's also the DIY, hand-crafted movement that celebrates the details. For lots of us, it's fun to make favors or hair accessories.

I think the trick when you're planning a wedding is to remember that it's very, very easy to see the world through wedding lenses. The details--for a lot of us--tend to feel way more important than they otherwise would. Everything gains a significance that it otherwise wouldn't. We're at risk for focusing more on the wedding than the actual marriage.

The decisions we make while planning a wedding should be filtered through an awareness of the wedding lens. We should ask ourselves, "How would I feel about this if I weren't in the middle of planning a wedding? Is there something else I should be thinking about or doing that would develop my post-wedding life more?" I'm not saying you won't still have those crazy moments. But at least you'll have a mechanism in place for re-grounding yourself as needed.

I included an image of some thank-you cards I just picked up at the Target clearance. The Wedding Industrial Complex tells us that our thank-you cards have to coordinate with our invitations and our colors and our wedding theme. The DIY movements tells us they have to be made with a Gocco or designed by an artist.

But when the wedding is said and done, the aesthetics matter less than the sentiment. What matters is the message on the inside and how sincere and personal it is. Of course those two things aren't mutually exclusive. The details of our weddings can be both aesthetically pleasing and full of sentiment. But we have limited time, and the more time we spend thinking about one, the less time we have to think about the other.

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Anonymous said...

Hey Sara- this is Nicole, today's "Wedding Graduate" on A Practical Wedding. I think you're right on in this post.

The details that DID end up mattering to us were the ones with meaning- my husband's grandmother's cake topper, the content of our program, the little notes we wrote to our guests inside our escort cards-- I knew I didn't have the patience for complicated DIY projects, so instead we put our energy into the things that had meaning to us and to our guests.

I love the Thank You card thing. We just had Thank You notes made of our big group wedding photo (of all our guests) and despite my knowledge about sentiment over aesthetic, I still had a "is this not design-y enough??" moment. Ha!

kristin said...

Hi Sara! I just discovered your wonderful blog today and had to comment! I have been engaged for a little over a year and we were planning on waiting until 2010 to marry because of money, but your blog has convinced me that it is possible to do it cheaper/sooner! Your blog is such a breath of fresh air compared to the "Wedding Industrial Complex." It is so easy to get sucked into that and become overwhelmed. I just wanted to say thank you for sharing such an intimate experience as your wedding planning. You have definitely inspired me today to rethink the idea of a wedding and what it should really be about. I can't wait to dig through all your posts :)

Sara E. Cotner said...

Aw, Kristin, thank you so much for your affirmations. You made my day!

I was going to share a story with with you, but now I'm inspired to write a whole post about it instead.

Thanks for the inspiration! (The post will probably be published tomorrow morning.)

Anonymous said...

As always Sara, thanks for another insightful post. My fiance and I are newly engaged and are working on the wedding planning. One of the first things we did was book the venue—Stoudts Brewery—because it's the No. 1 thing that was important to us (aside from the guests). We're homebrewers, and wanted to share our love of beer and good food with friends and family. Stoudts is going to help us do that, and for a fraction of a cost that other venues would have charged. We also feel really good about going with Stoudts because of how involved they are with the community...they're not a member of the WIC, just an honest-to-goodness family owned brewery that opens the doors to its German-style biergarten on some weekends for weddings.

And thumbs up on the thank you notes! I purchased my own box of Target thank you cards, and they just happen to be done in similar colors to what we selected for the wedding...but I really picked them because they were affordable and looked like something a person would want to hang on to, long after first reading the note.

Marina said...

I love you. Thank you so much for this post. I want to print it out and put it on my wall.

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