Before I launch into simplicity here, I have to admit that prior to our engagement, I could have earned a gold medal in a pinterest wedding pins championship (please tell me that does not exist). I was pinning pretty, sparkly things to wedding pinboards as if my life depended on it. I knew there was deeper significance at stake, but I was easily distracted: “Oh, but the lights! The dresses! The sparkly things!”
I was surprised to find that from the moment our engagement began, all the pretty inspiration I’d been collecting drifted wistfully into the background. Unlike a dream wedding, a real-life wedding is serious business, and I was determined not to let the main event—a lifelong commitment—get buried under too many layers of tulle and color-coordinated bows.
As I quickly discovered, creating a simple and meaningful celebration often involves wading through many layers of traditions, expectations, and assumptions about what a wedding should be. It can be quite a daunting task to unravel the influences of family, friends, culture, religion, and media and discover what’s most important for the two lucky souls seeking to acknowledge a new chapter of their life together.
I found this process really challenging, but there were a few things that saved my sanity: 1) conversations with my sweetheart and my ladies, 2) dessert, and 3) a few fantastic books about weddings. If you (or your mom or your friend or your dog) is getting married anytime in the next ten years, you will certainly need a copy (or two!) of at least one of these gems.
A Practical Wedding by Meg Keene
I already knew about Meg from her fantastic blog, but this book takes no-nonsense wedding planning to a whole new level. Meg’s reassuring voice is like a security blanket, guiding your chaotic, almost-married crazy brain toward what matters and away from what doesn’t. Even if you are a great big celebrity planning a not-so-simple wedding dripping in diamonds, you probably still need this book. Meg will tell you what to freak out about and what not to freak out about. Listen to Meg. She is the voice of wedding planning wisdom. And unlike many other wedding resources, this book is wonderfully inclusive of the many diverse voices of people getting hitched.
The New Jewish Wedding by Anita Diamant
If you’re planning a Jewish (or Jew-ish) wedding, Anita Diamant is your girl. This book has been a classic since its first printing in 1986, and for good reason. Whether you and your partner (and your families) are perfectly aligned or perfectly unaligned in your understanding of Jewish practice, this book offers thoughtful and practical insight into the hows and whys of Jewish weddings. Complete with stories, suggested translations, and even contact information, The New Jewish Wedding is at once helpful, inspiring, and delightful to read. It is clearly written with love and shaped by a gentle awareness of the many shades of Jewish tradition.
One Perfect Day by Rebecca Mead
If you are the least bit concerned about drowning in wedding bills and etiquette rules, or perhaps bewildered by wedding jargon (trousseau? stylist? bustle? vendor?), this book is for you. It is not a guidebook, but rather an unveiling (if you will) of wedding culture and consumerism in America. It’s an insightful and eye-opening examination of everything from “bridezilla” myths to registries, ball gowns to elopements. Mead not only sheds light on the spectacle of weddings but seeks to understand the deeper fears and desires which compel us toward extravagance and complexity. Although I think this book is important, I’d recommend it for early on, rather than in the thick of the wedding planning process, when engaged persons are particularly susceptible to second-guessing their every move.
The Conscious Bride by Sheryl Paul
While this book is not as inclusive as those above (its conception of “Brides” and “Grooms” is rather narrow), I found the author’s attention to the emotional aspect of wedding planning incredibly helpful. Using psychological principles, ancient mythology, and real women’s stories, she argues that we often lack adequate language and rituals to guide us through the transition into marriage and easily displace our complex feelings onto seemingly insignificant aspects of wedding planning. In short, it is much easier to throw a fit over a tablecloth than to mourn the losses and embrace the newness that accompanies such a significant life transition.
November 7, 2012 /