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

Friday, May 7, 2010

More Stress from the Wedding Industrial Complex

The farther away one gets from one's wedding, the more one starts to wonder, "Why did I care so much about the way _________ looked? I barely even think about that now. And surely my guests have much more significant memories from our wedding." [insert any number of things ranging from the chair covers to the centerpieces to the aisle bouquets to the flower girl dresses--the list goes on and on and on].

A major culprit is the Wedding Industrial Complex, which strives to make us the most anxious and insecure brides they can (grooms, you are thankfully spared large amounts of this). The more anxious and insecure we are, the more we will buy into their rhetoric and the more we are likely to buy whatever it is they are offering to complete our "Perfect Day."

Take this message from a vendor, for example:
"Cupcakes are economical, convenient, creative, and clearly the hip alternative to the wedding cake. The challenge lies in how to display them dramatically, giving them the presence of a traditional wedding cake - making them the focal point of the table."
See? The subtext makes me queasy. In other words, "If you opt for cupcakes because you are part of the 'hip' crowd or because you want to reduce stress on your wedding day or because you want to save money, then you better at least stress about how to display them. You must impress your guests with a dramatic display. This display must be so sensational that it overshadows everything else: your love, your friendships, your connection with family. Everything must pale in comparison to that tower of cupcakes. Oh, and by the way, we have just the thing to help you achieve the dramatic results you're looking for. It costs only $XX.XX. And you should probably thrown in some ____ and some ____ for an extra $XXX.XX if you want to make your day truly memorable."

No, no, no, no, no!

Our weddings will be meaningful and memorable regardless of what we do or don't buy, thankyouverymuch.

Wedding Veterans: Are there things that you stressed about during wedding plan that seem completely irrational and inconsequential now that your weddings are said and done?

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Anonymous said...

I love this post - and the fact that it refers to cupcakes.

We had cupcakes at our wedding last September and dealt with a few wacky bakery "tastings" at which vendors were concerned about us wanting too many flavors/colors of frosting. We picked six cake/frosting combos including raspberry, orange, lemon, coconut, chocolate, and rum frostings. One bakery actually said, "But, all those colors? They don't match YOUR colors, and they aren't very bridal."

We went with the local bakery who didn't care about "bridal", and did make all the flavors we wanted. (At $2.00 per cupcake, I might add) The Mr. and I are HUGE fans of baked goods. The bakery also enthusiastically supported our decision to forgo the cardboard cupcake tower in favor of "displaying" the cupcakes on the charming collection of mismatched cake plates -all shapes and sizes - that our mothers, grandmothers, and aunts collected from their cabinets and their friends.

One of my favorite pictures from the wedding is of my husband, his mom, and our niece all looking wide-eyed at the great selection of desserts on the table. I guarantee that they weren't drooling over the choice of plates!

tatgeer said...

See, my interpretation of this is

"Cupcakes are economical, convenient, creative, and clearly VASTLY INFERIOR to the wedding cake."

I mean, why else would they be convincing you that you need to display them just like a wedding cake? Why can't it be ok to just display them as, I dunno, cupcakes? :) We had 3 flavors of cheesecake, which were a big hit.

Cove Girl said...

A while back you mentioned changing the name of your blog. Not that I've given this a lot of thought, but your post today made me think of one so I'll share it, "Meaningful Moments". Since that seems to be a theme of creating a wonderful wedding to begin with. BTW, I like alliteration.

Eco Yogini said...

so weird- A Los Angeles Wedding just posted about desserts today. :)

I agree, who cares about how the cupcakes look?
Also, after a few terrible traditional vendor experiences, my new rules is to vetoe any that bring up things like "but what are you colours?" in the conversation. :)

we're having homemade apple pies. and a cupcake for myself and Andrew, cuz he wants one. :) (they will not be displayed, they will be eaten!)

Eco Yogini said...

oops! I meant: A Los Angeles Love :)

Erin said...

My mother-in-law REALLY thought that programs were important. I had drawn up a mock program at some point, and had even put a bride-and-groom themed crossword puzzle on the back, but it seemed pointless to me. The ceremony was short and didn't need explanation, almost everyone knew the bridal party, and we weren't having any unusual traditions that needed to be explained. Programs just didn't seem necessary. Worse, they seemed so pointless that our guests would look at them and say "And I need this because . . . ?"

So I put my foot down and said I wasn't printing any. MIL then put her foot down and said that she was. She eventually got too busy with other wedding things to do it, and they were forgotten. Now I look back and think "programs? We were arguing about programs? What idiots!"

luluvillage said...

A friend had her little chihuahua be the ring bearer- with a turquoise and lace ring pillow attached to the collar - she was freaking out the whole day - I am talking from the moment the day started, the guests arrived, the wedding started- that the poor dog will pee or poo while walking down the turquoise petaled isle;
everything went fine, and was very cute and all-
except the poor bride really was not present in the moment at all!

Rebecca said...

The bakery we are getting our cupcakes from normally charges $10/dozen if you buy them from the counter, order them for a party, etc. When we for a tasting, they told us it would be $1.25/cupcake. When I asked why there was a difference, the girl helping us did not know and had to ask her supervisor. The answer we got: "cupcakes for a wedding are iced by a professional icer". Needless to say we are just calling a couple of weeks ahead of time and ordering 200 cupcakes with no mention of a wedding. Normally I would have been irritated and bought them somewhere else...but I love their buttercream too much (and $10 for a dozen is a good deal).

Miss. Blur said...

Im having this same problem with my soon to be in laws. They want to go way over and beyond and match every wedding they've ever been to to ours. My fiance always takes their side! Its so frustrating. He then tells me I dont care about getting married because I dont care about the Fricking invitations!! So ridiculous and really gets me fired up. Now surprise we're pregnant and the things that did matter to me in the first place like programs or napkins with our names on it dont mean ANYTHING To me except the getting married part. But it means something to everyone else and im "being selfish" because I dont want to let them just have what they want..im very upset by this all right now. sorry for the vent.

L said...

It totally stressed everyone out that I had certain details that I wanted to include at the wedding, but didn't want to do the traditional route at all. We made our own wedding cake the days leading up to the wedding and the flowers came from local supermarkets (since our flower order didn't get placed through Costco), it was no big deal! I think the most wonderful part was that knowing that I didn't need to stress about the details, because stress wasn't (and isn't) happening because I know my husband and I made the right decision in marrying each other. My mom put it best when she said, "she doesn't need to be nervous because she knows she's making the right decision." I think when that's the case, the detail stuff is just stuff. I guess I was a little stressed that other people were stressed that I wasn't going the traditional route! Go figure!

Anonymous said...

I wish I hadn't stressed about the children. We had adopted a no children rule since, well, I don't think weddings are a great place for screaming and tantrums (mothers in law aside..) But you know what? Our wedding was in a park! A park! The few children who did attend because they were related to the wedding party had a wonderful time, didn't make noise and didn't get in anyone's way, but it had been such a stink that the best man refused to attend the wedding without his child (because with a year's notice, he still hadn't found a baysitter..).

The rest of it? This was my second wedding, so I already knew what to weed out and what to keep. Simple!

Riverside farm said...

Cup cakes! How I wish I had planned this event like yours on my wedding day ....THanks for the post..

Ms Bear Cub said...

omg, sara, I wish it were true. I'm a pretty laid-back wedding graduate. I could care less how xxxx looked at this point (but I personally think everything looked wonderful in my point of view).
Unfortunately, a few weeks ago one of my aunts decided to tell me she thought our wedding cake tasted like soap and dirt. WTF? I made the wedding cake. She knows I made the wedding cake. So wtf are laid-back anti-WIC brides supposed to do? Please everyone, so we don't get nasty comments like that after the wedding? Barf.

Carissa said...


such a great reminder!!!!!

emily said...

the color of the [damn] napkins.
for real.

Unknown said...

My husband and I got married on the first day of spring, less that two months ago. It turned out to be very cold but a wonderful time and since it had been planned to be an outdoor wedding, we all huddled and hugged inside. It made it better because there are people who would have not met each other that did.
For our dessert, we did not want cake. We are both athletes and I dont eat many sweets and no flour. We are both proud Texans though so our wedding dessert decision was easy. We purchased Blue Bell ice cream cups from the grocery store and I found some wooden spoons online from a bird supply place (only 10cents a piece instead of 1.25 if they are called ice cream spoons). Everyone loved the ice cream to go with our BBQ dinner and my mother, MIL, and aunt all made pies of their choice. Great times!

Roxanne said...

I think if you look at anything from a practical standpoint, you'll figure out what is silly stress.

For example, I made my own invitations. They were okay, but they weren't fancy, just something I whipped up using photoshop. But I had started to stress about buying invitations, they cost so much! So I started thinking..and thought "You know what? Nobody is going to look at my invitation and think 'This isn't fancy enough. There are no ribbons. I'm not going". And all of a sudden...no stress about invitations.

Also, we had cupcakes, and just borrowed a stand from a friend of a friend. Nobody should be stressing about how to display an item that will be devoured as soon as you let people at it!

Amanda said...

Man, that is so true!! I saw that when I was planning my wedding and I purposely didn’t buy into it and I’m so glad I didn’t! When I look back the only thing I wish I had was a wedding cake, but even that It’s not that big of a deal because I had a mini one at one of my showers and it totally satisfied that want for me and only cost $36 instead of a full cake at my wedding that would have been $200. I did so much myself too which I loved and made my wedding so much more memorable too. When I look back I love it all and am so happy I spent money on what I did.

Anonymous said...

A friend of mine got married outside at her parents house on the lake. Two weeks before the wedding she was fighting with her mom and crying on the phone because her mom wanted to use the lawnmower she already had to cut the grass before the wedding and the bride wanted her mom to use a different lawnmower.

That very moment I decided I was eloping. (Now we are actually getting married in our own yard and I don't care if no one remembers to cut the grass beforehand)

Anonymous said...

I saw this older post and I just agreed with it! Since, I've been doing a lot of wedding planning, I've made a lot of my own choices. I'm tired of the wedding industry dictating how, I should budget and plan for a DIY wedding.

One thing that bothers me is when people start talking about cutting cost for weddings. I hate it when people suggest that if you can't afford a "real" wedding cake it's best to go the cup cake route! Gosh darn it, if I want a real wedding cake I'm having one! I actually, I'm getting my wedding cake at a grocery store. It's going to be a beautiful cake. For around $200.00 I can have a three tiered wedding cake that is decorated very cute! At a bakery you can spend around $2,000.00 for a cake. I'm so happy about my cake choice.

When it came to making my decision for getting a wedding cake, I knew that what I was doing was the right thing! I shouldn't have to make any sacrifices on my wedding day even if I have a small budget to work with.

Weddings never used to be this over the top. What bugs me is when I read stuff about DIY weddings. A lot of websites suggest that couples cut their guest list down when planning a DIY wedding. I hate it! If I want to have a lot of people at my wedding and I want to have a nice cake, food, photographer, dancing, etc., I should be able to have that. Even if my budget is super small... under $10,000.

The wedding planning for me has been wonderful because I've chosen to ignore the wedding industry. I want to have a good size wedding with music, food, and more. I know that in my heart, our wedding will be special even if it doesn't cost so much. I just want an old-fashion wedding... one that is fun! :)

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