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

Friday, March 13, 2009

When The Knot Makes You Feel Insecure About Your Wedding

My Real Wedding from The Knot and The Nest.

I still get e-mail messages from The Knot, and they continue to crack me up.

The most recent message was: "Think you had the best wedding of 2008?"

First of all, there is no such thing. A wedding is not a horse running around a track trying to beat other horses. A wedding is not a scantily clad beauty queen competing for a first-place sash.

I decided to do a little investigation to see what this is all about (I'm procrastinating, really, from two PowerPoints and two handouts I need to create for a college course at the end of the month). The site lets you upload seven pictures from your wedding, enter a brief description of each photo, and then categorize each picture as one of the following details (in this order):
  1. Stationery
  2. Flowers
  3. Cakes
  4. Fashion
  5. Bridal Party
  6. Ceremony
  7. Reception
  8. Family
Seriously? Stationery is at the top? With flowers as a close second?

I decided to upload our wedding as a counter-example to the dominant narrative that tells us weddings are primarily about pretty flowers, big cakes, and invitations.

As I started uploading my pictures, however, I started to feel insecure. We didn't have gorgeous stationery or flowers or a traditional wedding cake. What if The Knot's readers only gave our wedding one or two stars?

It's the same insecurity I felt when Matt and I were planning our wedding. Blog after blog would highlight professional photographs focused on the aesthetic details of beautiful weddings. My immediate reaction was jealousy. I would then have to remind myself that we were choosing not to spend time/energy/money on those things. We decided to spend our time/energy/money on creating the best possible wedding for us, not the best possible wedding for The Knot.

And that's what everyone should aim for: The Best Possible Wedding for You. That may mean beautiful stationery, pretty flowers, and a big cake. Or not. It's up to us. We should use our own visions and our own goals to drive our decisions, not visions and goals bestowed upon us by the Wedding Industrial Complex.

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Anonymous said...

amen, sara! i checked out your knot page, and it was so awesome. people can't look at that happiness and say anything negative. your dress was beautiful and more meaningful than an off-the-rack dress from david's bridal. i compared it to the real wedding right next to your and it was day and night...unique, happy vs. boring, seen-it-all-before.

i'm sure they were happy and loved their wedding; even mine is going to be a bit more traditional...but i want people to look at my pics, as they do your (perfectly fine, inexpensive) pics, and say "wow. she is radiant. they look genuinely excited to be saying their vows...and look at the people having fun at the reception...."

Rosalie said...

Family last?
Another reason not to ever visit The Knot website, even if I am tempted to look at your lovely wedding on there :)

Amanda said...

Thanks for the fresh perspective! My boyfriend and I talk about our wedding and I find myself looking at all the professional pictures and wanting a wedding like theirs. Thanks for reminding me that we are the important parts of our day!

Kaitlin Wainwright said...

You know, your wedding *does* look out of place there, completely and utterly so. I actually felt confused when I was browsing through your (awesome) photos. That said, I looked that the wedding showcases before and after yours, and my reaction was "that's not what I want for my wedding! Yikes!" Not to mentioned every single photo credit is from Photography Company X.

Thank you for being counter-culture (even if it's simply by doing what you want/feel is best for you) and reminding us why the Wedding Industrial Complex is what it is.

Ms Bear Cub said...

So I tried to vote for you (stickin' it to the wo-"man", you know ;) ) - DAY-UM they make it hard to vote! All sorts of hoops!
Typical for the knot, eh? ;)

Karen said...


Ten Thousand Only said...


Anonymous said...

Preach it, girlfriend! Your wedding looks awesome, warm and fun - really you! - not cookie-cutter like some of the other weddings on The Knot, where you could replace Bride A and Groom B and never know the difference. Shouldn't the wedding be about the people getting married, more than creating an image like everyone else's???

rachel box said...

i'm glad you decided to say "eff the knot!" and push the sudden insecurities to the side. i get tired of looking at pics of weddings that all look the same.

Sarah said...

Love it!

Anonymous said...

I am embarassed to say I am addicted to the Knot message boards though. And Sarah, I hope you don't mind, but whenever someone needs ideas for a wedding, a bunch of us point her in your direction!

Anonymous said...

So what if the Knot only gives you two stars for your wedding...I'm sure your MARRIAGE would earn 5 stars! And isn't that what it's all about? Fancy wedding brides should be jealous of YOUR marriage!

Kudos on a great blog. :)

christina said...

well said, sara!

no need to "compare & despair," we each had the best wedding ever as long as we were true to ourselves. you are an inspiration!

happy weekend!

Laura said...

Thank you for posting this. It's exactly what I needed to hear today.

First of all, deciding how many "hearts" to give someone's wedding is gross.

Secondly, how could the perfect cake, dresses, photos, etc. begin to compete with something as special as your quilt-wrapping ceremony? I feel warm just thinking about that.

love-v said...

Ladies on the Knot need to see more weddings like yours. There is a phenomenon of new wives who are depressed now that the wedding is over. I can't imagine depression befalling me because I'm finally married.

That ranked list shows that the industry priorities are way off. Family last? What about marriage & a fulfilling relationship?

I've never compared myself to a model in a magazine, why start now? (I do admit being more self conscious now because of all of the weddings I see online). Thank you Sara for the grounding reminders of why we marry.

sera said...

Thank you thank you thank you, Sara. And thank you for continuing to give us brides-to-be support even though your wedding day is done. I love your wedding pics and come back to them when I need to be grounded in reality again. I know that all of us, your readers, believe that you threw the real wedding - the one where you had fun and celebrated love.

What he ate, what I ate. said...

The knot simultaneously makes me feel inspired and inadequate on a regular basis. The "best possible wedding for you", well said!

Jess said...

Wow, I completely agree with love-v and Teresa. The Knot can be a helpful wedding tool, but I hate that they create competition through rating readers' weddings. I'm glad you put your wedding on the Knot because more "mainstream" brides need to see it. I think the elements you focused your wedding around are the most important! I hate to admit it, but I do visit the knot boards every now and then- mainly to get help from local girls about where to find products and which vendors to avoid. However, I've learned I have to be thick-skinned when I head over to that site. It's easy for me to start getting depressed because I'm doing things like having my mom make my dress, using an ipod for a dj, and putting together our own flower arrangements. Whenever it starts to get to me I have to head back over to your blog, or others like APW to keep me grounded. Thank you, thank you, thank you for starting your blog and continuing to write posts like these!

Amber said...

you can RATE peoples weddings? I'm horrified.

Anonymous said...

Like a reader above, this is exactly what I needed to read today. I've been feeling so insecure lately, despite loyally following your blog and trying to model our wedding concept after your own... it's still hard not to get jealous about things like photography and a dress! But thank you thank you thank you for the constant inspiration to be unique and heartfelt in a materialistic wedding world.

Operation Pink Herring said...

The Knot gives me a panic attack every time I log on, with their stupid purple exclamation points getting all up in my face. I don't even know why I go on there... just to make sure I"m not forgetting anything, like "be sure to set aside a special moment to exchange your gifts and a quick kiss after the ceremony" oh noes! i didn't have that on my to-do list! The whole wedding would have been ruined! I kid, but not really because that really IS an item on their checklist. VOMIT.

Unknown said...

oh my gosh, The flowers- the stationary, the invitations are the last thing on my mind! I'm actually so excited about having a cookout as my reception! there's going to be a huge fire, a pool, dancing, tasty food and a karoke machine that will play our songs! Maybe I'll get up and sing-
All I know is that even if I had the money I wouldn't want my reception to be any other way, I am so excited.

Mrs. B said...

oh wow. I love this post. You go girl!

Caro said...

You're so right! I'm now starting to plan my wedding and it's kinda depressing to see all these other perfect weddings with perfect details! I will never be able to do such a thing! I really have to stop thinking like that and focus on what a wedding really is... it's hard though...

jenbeth said...

i agree 100%! Its so nice to find some sane women online. I am going to Maui for our wedding so that we can have an inexpensive wedding and vacation at the same time, and in order to get ideas, I started looking at a forum called "Best Destination Wedding Forum" I can't believe all of the stuff that brides do even for a destination wedding! It made me start feeling guilty that I just wanted to go and be there and have the ceremony with whoever came. But then I realized that I have to do what is right for me and who care what everyone else does. Its so sad how commercial the whole wedding day business is now and how it takes away from what the wedding is actually about: love.

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