“Let us dance in the sun, wearing wild flowers in our hair...”

my thoughts on... weddings.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

braids::

Okay, you asked for it. Well, a few of you asked for it. That is, my thoughts on weddings. I'll try not to rant too much here. Basically, lots of my friends are either engaged or will soon become engaged or are already hitched with 10238747 kids (not really). So this is something I've thought a lot about. Not to mention I altered wedding gowns for about a year and have made gowns over the years for clients. I hesitate to write anything here because a lot of my friends read it and I don't want them to think that I am in any way putting down their wedding. With that said...a few of my thoughts on this subject. (And pleeeeease, no flaming. Otherwise this will get deleted and no more talk about weddings ever again. I promise. Sort of.) ;)

I used to work at a bridal shop when I was 18 altering wedding gowns. It was a great experience for me to work with people and learn how to alter a garment, as altering is completely different than sewing a garment from scratch. But it also was a bit of a rude awakening as I'd never really knew much about the bridal industry at this time. You see, I'm not what you'd call the type of girl who has been dreaming of her wedding day since she was 12. I love pretty dresses, don't get me wrong, but I always thought planning your own wedding before even having a man in the picture was pretty silly. (Not to mention my idea of the perfect wedding gown would change drastically over the years.) I still think it's pretty silly. I also think people get a little crazy when they do finally get engaged and start planning a wedding. As if it's the one day in your life that will make or break you. The fact is, it's not. It's one day. It's really just a party and meant so you and those you love can join together to celebrate a special day in your life. I never understood the brides who turn crazy over one day. I mean, where's the love? Isn't that why we have weddings in the first place, because two people love each other so much that they want to spend the rest of their lives together? And why does everyone feel they have to do all the little wedding things for the sake of tradition? What tradition? You mean the little traditions that date back to the 1960's? Who decided the bride's maids would pay for their own dresses? Who decided the parents of the bride would pay for the wedding? Why a diamond? Why spend thousands of dollars on one ring? And please tell me, why on earth do people spend tens of thousands of dollars on one day, ONE day out of their life?

Whoa... slow down Anna. I know, I'm getting a little out of hand here. Some of my friends just say I'm cynical (others tell me to embrace the inner cynicism, I prefer to embrace it). But honestly, I have to ask myself when so many people around me are getting hitched. What's the big deal? Of course I'm not stupid, I know getting married is a big deal. But a lot of it I just don't get. And as far as the dresses these days, most of them are garbage. You know when I walked into a bridal shop for the first time, I honestly thought they would all be made of silk. Wrong! Polyester more like. Silk almost doesn't exist unless you have your gown custom made or from a couture shop. What you will find is beading. Lots and lots of beading. And acetate. And lace. Oh lordy the lace. (Have I offended anyone yet?) Another thing (as I risk to further offend), why do bride's maids dresses all have to look like high school prom? Why???? And why do they all have to be matchy matchy?

The point is, why for the sake of tradition does everyone feel they need to follow the path and do as everyone else does? You know in the mid-19th century and long before that, it was quite common for brides to marry in their best dress and in many cases it was not white. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe Queen Victoria was the one who popularized the white gown. And although I am partial to a white wedding gown, there's nothing that says you must wear white otherwise you are less pure if you go for something less traditional than a white gown. Oh I could go on and on. But I'll save you. Now I don't want you to go away thinking I am a hateful woman who hates all things that have to do with weddings. I think a wedding can be a great time and I'm betting if I ever get married, it would be fun to plan. But getting stressed, spending lots of money and turning psycho are all things I think many brides can do without. And that my friends, is my little (yes little) rant on weddings. Now, take me to the kittens!

39 comments :

  1. Alright, so I've never commented on this yet, but now's the time. I totally feel you. I'm all for just getting married at the courthouse and simply having a reception to celebrate it with family and friends. My roommate just got engaged and it seems to be getting out of control... people just don't live as simply as they used to or something.

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  2. Preach on sister! I agree with you all the way.

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  3. I got married last year and kept it simple, we payed for it all ourselves and had a great time, we didn't even have a honeymoon. I know most people aren't like that though, I too was the girl who DIDN'T plan her wedding when she was 12, I actually had someone directly imply that I didn't care about my wedding because I wasn't making a huge fuss about it and spending gobs of money.

    I spent as much on my entire wedding process (including treating my wedding party to drinks after we decided the reception had run its course and went to see our favorite local band was playing that night in Iowa City in our favorite pub)that a friend of mine spent on her photography package alone! Infact the whole shebang was thousands of dollars less than her photography package alone.

    The best advice I try to give is that you should put as much if not more work into your vows than the rest of the day, or else you're really not getting the point.

    Most people forget that it's not about the wedding, but about the marriage and immediately start out on the wrong foot.

    p.s. I also let my bridesmaids pick out their own dresses, shoes, etc and didn't ask for them to give us or do anything more for us than show up on the day and support us.

    p.p.s. I had numerous people tell us that they enjoyed our wedding more than their own and others they've been to because there was no stress about it; it was just a simple celebration.

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  4. A long time reader coming out of lurkdom to comment. I totally agree with you. Why spend so much money on one day. I know people that have spent the equivalent of a house deposit on their wedding or the cost of a new car both of which last much longer than a day.

    That said there is nothing wrong with getting married just be realistic about the amount of money you are spending

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  5. I've thought about that too, a lot.
    No "normal" dress. No fuss, life is everyday, not just on wedding day.

    I'd like to dance barefoot, by the sea, picnic with friends and someone playing guitar. Maybe it rains, but it wouldn't harm.

    That is now. But my wedding already was :)

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  6. I couldn't agree with you more, Anna! Last year when I got engaged, I went into a tizzy--not over the wedding itself having to be perfect, but over the fact that I had no clue what I wanted to do! ;) lol. I hadn't ever given a thought to weddings, beyond the "that's a pretty dress!" passing thought. Honestly, if it had been up to me, Sailor Husband and I would've either eloped (I nearly did during the months leading up to the wedding; the stress of trying to satisfy everyone got to me!), or had a small wedding (pastor marrying us, both immediate families) followed by dinner at a posh restaurant. Actually, that was my ideal wedding: 1940s wartime style! Him in his dress blues and me in a 40s suit. ;) lol. But obviously, we went for something a wee bit bigger, though still very low key, simple and about 1/10 of what weddings in DC cost on average!

    Weddings really do have too much emphasis put on them. Having been through one, and juggled two families' expectations, has given me some empathy with what goes on during the planning stages. But I still am not a big party girl, and do prefer simpler things. I honestly felt a bit self-conscious that day because all the attention was on me!! YIKES! But the thing I kept in mind the entire time was: the day did not define me or us (as a couple). Rather it was the marriage that was the most important; the things that came after we said "I do" were what would make or break us! The day is now just a distant memory compared to everything thing else (good and bad) we've been through in the past 8 months of marriage. ;)

    Anyway, long-winded, but I just wanted to add my $0.02. ;)

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  7. oh anna...
    this has been on my mind for so long... and, you put it so eloquently! thank you. my fella and i have talked about marriage and the fact that we, if we ever choose to get hitched, would do it at city hall and have a big ole party later...
    there is no reason for a couple to spend all of their money and get all stressed out over love... gosh!
    so... thank you anna... you're awesome for sharing your thoughts on marriage!

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  8. I am in total agreement! Thank you for sharing your thoughts :)

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  9. I'm ambivalent on weddings, on one hand I agree something simple at the courthouse could do. But then I think about my wedding, on my father's lawn with a swing band and think how it really was a celebration of all of our families and friends. Of course we didn't have brides maids or even a best man, just some friends who carried the chupah and a few poems read. But to us the whole thing was a collage that we created for our friends and families.

    On the other side I agree that there is too much put onto weddings and so much of the wedding culture is inane. But it is easy to get swept into the magazines and websites looking for the perfect day. I was glad that my wedding was a year after our engagement, it gave me plenty of time to recover from the media onslaught.

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  10. I appreciate you sharing your opinion. Somehow I had a feeling that it would match up with mine, that's partially why I wanted to hear your thoughts on weddings. Also, you tend to keep your personal views out of your blog (I know you have reasons for this and it's your blog so you can do whatever you want, that's the beauty of it...), but it's was nice to hear your opinion. Thanks. :)

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  11. I completely agree with you. My husband's family goes all out for weddings I'm talking black tie, evening, formal dinner all out. Me I'm exactly the opposite. It's one day. One day. Sure it's special, sure it's a time when you pledge in front of family, friends, and God that you're going to be true to this one person for the rest of your life, but I think a lot of times it becomes more about the event than what that event is actually supposed to represent.

    I got married very simply for about $3000. Total. One fifth of that was my dress, a grand total $600 for a silk taffeta, very modern, non-lace, non-bead encrusted, not strapless, vintage inspired gown.

    It was simply and elegant and we got tons of compiments. It just goes to show, no one remembers how much you spent on flowers, all they remember is how much fun they had at the reception. :)

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  12. I couldn't agree with you more! I've told my friends over and over, IF I ever decide to get married they'll get a phone call to show up at my house on Saturday afternoon for a potluck bbq and it'll just happen like that.

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  13. Another very sensible article (and good job utilizing kittens to neutralize any potential anger in your readers)!

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  14. Great post!

    I wore a vintage gown from eBay (purple and white!) and we got married at the courthouse. The next day we had a cookout at a local park w/ family and friends. I think we spent under $200 total, for everything. It was very very simple and quiet. Eventually we'd like to take a really nice vacation for a honeymoon, since we never went on one, but we wanted our actual wedding day very simple.

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  15. I think the bridal magazines fuel a lot of the hysteria, along with the Amrican "tradition" of keeping up with the Jones's and feeling you have to meet everyone else's expectaions. I totally agree with you.

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  16. Great minds think alike! When hubby and I tied the knot, we knew two things: It had to be a PHENOMENAL party, but it had to be done on the super cheap.

    We had a good, old fashioned country picnic. We invited all of our friends (we're bing in community theatre, so once we invited the whole theatre group, we had over 300 guests - but we paid for everything out of our own pocket AND we did it for UNDER $3,000 - ALL of it, including our outfits!)

    We didn't use credit cards. We didn't borrow money - we saved up for it and paid everything in cash - only what we could afford.

    We roasted a pig in the back yard, made all the rest of the food ourselves - salads, baked beans, pickles and tons of fruit (invited all the women folk out the day before to help us cook and gossip - great fun!)

    I made my dress. It was fire engine red. And sparkly. Totally 1950s.

    He (and his groomsmen) all wore Elvis jumpsuits ..... and skydived into the wedding. (They're competitive skydivers). They landed in our neighbors' yard and we had the town judge officiate the ceremony as soon as they landed. The ceremony lasted 11 minutes (the perfect amount of time, if you ask me). We set up karaoke (perfect for a theatre group), ate a lot of BBQ picnicky foods in the big tent we rented and strung with a billion sparkly white lights.

    We also rented a cotton candy machine and a bounce house for the kids. I ate most of the cotton candy, tho', and we never saw any of the kids because they were playing in the bounce house all day.

    People STILL tell us our wedding was the most fun they've ever had at a marriage ceremony. I agree, but I'm kind of biased. ;-)

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  17. WOW! i guess a lot of you out there think the same way! i was kind of afraid to put down my thoughts, because it's a touchy subject for some people. and honestly, these are just my thoughts. there's nothing that says i won't change when my time comes. if that time comes. ;) i've put together parties in the past and stressed myself out and after going through this over and over i decided the stress is not worth it. not saying i don't want to have a wedding. heck, i don't know what i'll do when/if that day comes. i just wanna have fun, really! and if you can throw a party without spending thousands upon thousands, then i think you can throw a wedding for the same. just want to encourage some of you who might be getting married or thinking about it that you should do what YOU want to do. not what a lot of magazines and media tells you. i'm telling you, corporate america sucks, but we don't all have to conform to one way. anyways, thank you all SO MUCH for adding your input. i really loved reading every one. and if you just found this and feel like writing (or want to write more on the subject) by all means, type away! :) i don't always speak my mind on this blog, because i have no idea who reads it. i've gotten myself in trouble in the past. some people took things i wrote the wrong way or customers found my blog and took offense at beliefs i had. and other crazy crap. so i try to keep these thoughts to myself for the most part. though i must say, it feels kinda good to let loose once in awhile! anyway, thanks again guys! ya'll are awesome.

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  18. I love that at this moment, you are reading The Woman in White, or whatever the title is. :D

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  19. I originally found THE dress at Goodwill, a beautiful silk dream dress. And it remained THE dress until our wedding got so much larger than I had planned! Then I needed something more fitting for the occasion...more fabric in the skirt, to be exact. But, whoa, was it difficult to get a silk dress! I was really specific too, it had to be SILK...so why did the bridal shop attendants keep bringing me 'taffeta' and 'satin'? Well, finally I did find the right one, and it was silk. But it was difficult. It's sad that it's so hard to find quality in wedding dresses!

    Well, when you do get married, I hope you make your dress at least. Even if it were simple, I'm sure it would be gorgeous!

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  20. One last item ... about the silk dress. Silk is beautiful and wonderful (I'm a professional stitcher in the theatre), however I purposefully chose a poly because it wouldn't be wrinkly after sitting down once, though it was all lace overlay so there was little chance of lots of wrinkles.

    The friend whose photography package cost more than my wedding had a pure silk dress (the lining alone cost $1200 to give you an idea of how big that shindig was) and it rained that day and the dress was wrinkly for the rest.

    However, I do agree most of the stuff at the bridal stores is made of out the most atrocious fabric known to man. I only spent about 10 minutes in one of those David's Bridal places because I couldn't stand it.

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  21. I totally agree with you....at the same time I think each person has to do it their own way. I do loathe the crazy bridezillas, that's on a completely different level of nutso IMO. I've been to some beautiful weddings, full of love that clearly cost a serious amount of money that I would never in a million years feel comfortable spending.
    I'm the youngest of 5 girls, so my family could care less what I did, but my MIL snowballed it into something big that was just NOT ME. While my Mom was sending me articles on "How to elope without pissing off your family" articles, my MIL was sending me articles on $3000 cakes and the fanciest places to have a wedding (In my MIL's defense, she only has boys and this was her first wedding). So I called it all off, told my MIL to take a little time out, regrouped and thought about it. In the end, we invited our family and closest friends to town one weekend (with about 3 weeks notice), walked out on our favorite bridge over the Charles River and our friend married us. It was us to a Tee, no fuss no waste. Just a beautiful June day, a simple dress and a lovely dinner. We loved our wedding~! You just have to be willing to push back against the industry that is The Giant Wedding Machine (and overbearing MILs). :)

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  22. Amen, Anna. I wish more and more women felt the way some of us do about weddings. So many people lose sight of what the day is actually about - getting married. It shouldn't be started with stress, anger or lots of debt.

    I never thought my wedding day growing up until I was forced to take this stupid Adult Living class in high school. The teacher made us plan our weddings as a project. I was so furious about it that I planned the most ridiculous and expensive wedding that I could imagine. When my teacher told me the wedding I planned was absurd, I told her so was her project considering not all us are living to plan a stupid wedding. She didn't say another word to me.

    My wedding last August wasn't fancy or large. We had a full Mass because that was important to us but our reception had a picnic feel, which I wanted. We personally knew and loved everyone at our wedding. Our goal was to keep the focus on what the day was about, us getting married and not some silly fancy reception.

    I saw footage of a 1940s wedding right before the fella was shipped off. They went to the church, got married, and then they had a small picnic type backyard reception. That was my inspiration for my wedding. When I felt being pushed to do things more traditional, I would just remember that footage. :)

    -Loretta

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  23. Hey Anna.....I find your thoughts very very refreshing. I really hate weddings...for the most part. In the deep south, where i grew up...I used to call what they do...the wedding template. Same old same old routine...and with the awful band that is way too loud and you can't even sit and have a decent conversion. Hate it! I got married quite young...just short of 20 and I just went along with the flow...and did what everyone did... pretty much. But, I refused the band..and kept it pretty simple. But even now...I wish it had been even more simple. I'd rather go somewhere really special with only those closest to us and have a wonderful dinner afterwards. And OMG...the money people spend! ANd then they get into power struggles...geez...I'd so much rather take that money and find a great little house. Believe me....there are many who share your opinions on this = ) When you get married...do it in your own unique wonderful way. And BTW...I also never dreamed of my wedding either. And...when I went to look for my dress at the town's big bridal shop...I left in tears because ALL of the dresses had all the beads and sparkly things on it and that lace... =p
    But, that's a whole other story......
    ...oh and heehee....the only wedding function/party that was under my control was my bridesmaid luncheon. I upset my mother in law because I wore jeans and was barefooted. I wanted it to be casual and told everyone so....I baked a gorgeous braided ring of bread, and it was casual and fun at our house. Without asking me...my MIL posted one of those silly notices in the paper about the luncheon and you know how they always describe what the bride-to-be wore? LOL She wrote that I had on a blue pants suit!

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  24. I completely agree. My sister is getting married in september and while she feels the same way about weddings, shes still making more of a fuss than I really think is needed. Weddings are supposed to be about making a promise in front of your friends and family, not about a dress, or some gifts. I love the idea of a small gathering and NOT spending thousands of dollars. and I totally agree with you on the state of current wedding gowns. So ugly! My family is norwegian and traditionally Norwegian Brides wear green dresses. I believe this is actually a Norwegian-American tradition to remind the bride of her homeland. I think that kind of tradition, than means something, is cool. This idea of tradition for the sake of tradition is just dumb. I'm so glad you wrote about this!

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  25. I couldn't agree more. My husband and I got married 5 years ago on about $3000 total, and though it followed some traditions, and yes, my gown was probably made of polyester and beads and acetate, (but I bought it for $200 on ebay and it was what I wanted at the time) I am pretty proud of the day we put together.

    My husband designed our invitations and we put them together ourselves. We were married on a friend's private property and it was gorgeous. My dad's friend's band played, and my brother and dad sat in with them, and a bunch of other people played the djembes. We put our own food together from things bought at Costco. We borrowed chairs and tables from my childhood church. A family friend married us. My "bridesmaid dresses" were matching wrap-around skirts and each person chose their own white top and shoes. I wore flip flops with my wedding dress. We made our own packets of birdseed and little boxes of wildflower seeds for each guest.

    5 years later, most of our guests still tell us ours was the best wedding they've ever been to. And I'd have to agree!

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  26. i'd agree: i think more women tend to worry and stress about the wedding, while not paying as much attention to the marriage. (ahem, high divorce rate these days). for me, i was ready and excited to be married, but i was less than thrilled to plan a wedding-- or stand up in front of a crowd of people. so we gave everyone one weeks notice, had a courthouse ceremony, and a big family italian dinner. we kinda had a honeymoon: we went to the desert with some friends-- i had to bring my algebra homework with me.

    ** i just had to share, since i agree**

    p.s. i love how the more i get to know you, I get to liking you. We seem to have a lot in common.

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  27. I just got married on Sunday and I had always wanted to elope somewhere to the southwest..however...I have since learned that a wedding is not "your" day...it's everyone else's day. my mom's, Jon's mom's, Jon's day, and sometimes it's easier to compromise than to fight it for the long run...so we went with the traditional (well, traditional quaker) wedding, and a reception. I did, however, make the same observations about wedding dresses and made my own out of the best fabric I could find....

    I have to say, despite how much I was dragged kicking and screaming into wedding planning I had a lot of fun at my wedding!

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  28. PS: My dress was made out of wool voile, which was an AWESOME fabric. CW re-enacting has given me much respect for the temp regulation of natural fibers and the voile acted like a dream the whole day, never wrinkling and draping beautifully...

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  29. it sounds like a very special day, elizabeth! i'm so happy for you!! btw, where did you find the wool voile?? :) and i agree, living history gave me a whole new outlook on clothing.

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  30. Elizabeth LandrumJuly 21, 2009 at 9:00 AM

    Ok, now I have to comment on this! :) Since I just got married back in June, I really do agree with a lot that you have said. I loved my wedding, it was beautiful and more so, I am happy in my marriage with my best friend. When planning our wedding, I was more excited about our two families and closest friends all being together and having a good time! (Simply because that will probably never happen again with our families living far apart and most of our friends) So, I loved and enjoyed every second of it!

    I wasn't a detail nazi, I never understood girls that went crazy over every little thing. Mine just kinda fell into place with what I had. I also didn't want to take and take and take from my parents and use their money at my dispense. I didn't have the heart to do that to my parents. I also don't understand bride's who get on the drama queen thing and hurt their relationships in the process of their weddings. Why burn bridges with people over ONE day??? People need a reality check.

    As far as the bridesmaid dresses, I didn't think they looked like prom dresses, considering I let them pick out their own, just in the right color. I HATE the matchy look. Besides, every girl was built differently, so why enforce that awful rule of the same ugly dress? But, I love the color lilac and they all wore it.

    Anyway, I just wanted to chime in. I totally agree with what you had to say, but I loved our wedding and I had so much fun. It was well worth planning because in the end, everyone had a good time & Pat and I are happy (AFTER "the big day"). I am a sap, and I loved the showers, the bridesmaid luncheons, and the parties and the sentimental things leading up to it. Why not enjoy it? Marriage is a wonderful thing and you might as well have fun leading up to it and after it, just don't morph into a "its all about me monster" and it's perfectly fine!

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  31. liz, i totally agree! and i am still so annoyed that i couldn't come to your wedding! but i'm so happy it turned out beautiful and by the pictures it looks like it was an awesome time. we will have to celebrate next time i see you (i still have cherry bounce...if it hasn't gone bad by now!!) :)

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  32. You're right about Queen Victoria and the white wedding dress. I really wanted to wear a gray wedding dress for our 1840s wedding but it was impossible to find silk satin in that color so I went with Ivory. My sister just wore a gray dress from Target for $25 bucks. We got almost all of the flowers for free from a friend, my cousin was the photographer, we made our own wedding clothes, I made the wedding cake, and our caterer did it for us at cost. Talk about a bargain wedding!

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  33. I agree with all you have said! tee hee! :) I think if people want to stress and plan all these things, it's fine...whatever floats your boat. :)

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  34. Heck yeah lady. I just shocked the pants off of someone recently when I told them that my wedding dress was a $7 thrift store score. And it really is so crazy to see people, even people you wouldn't expect, adhering to traditions that in many ways make the event seem so much less personal or creative. Snoozerama!

    xo

    H

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  35. hi anna! this post made me smile so wide... thank you for your honesty it is really refreshing. one fantasy i have is to have a super simple wedding,( if at all) then have a wonderful marriage for many many years,....and then throw down for a big loving celebration. Pretty easy to get engaged, but to stay together for 20, 30, etc. years? That deserves a party! Imagine the stories told and toasts made... I agree, its just ONE day, of what is really important: the being together and sharing every day.

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  36. Rant away!

    As a florist for 20 years, I've seen many weddings but few marriages.

    Too many people get caught up in the planning of the party, and what to wear instead of what the reality of this event should truly be...the union of two people choosing to live their lives with love and laughter from this day forward.

    My husband and I wanted a small ceremony but once his family become involved, all hell broke loose! I stopped tallying expenses at $10,000 because it made me ill to think about the house we were going to buy getting smaller each day. Now if they were willing to pony up the cash that's one thing, but the bride's family was expected to pay for it all. And my family was poor, divorcing, and generally not into the spirit of celebrating. My husband and I paid for it ourselves with my Grandmother's help.

    In two years for our 20th, it will be done right!

    Keep up the good work!

    Jennifer

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  37. Hi Anna! I've never commented before, but I totally agree with you on this wedding thing, and just wanted to let you know. I'm in the same boat as you with all the girlfriends constantly going on and on about the future weddings, and no one even has a date! I'm not wedding person at all, and I know I never will be, so I get just a tad tired hearing about all the drama and who wants what, etc. (Not to say I won't get married - I want very much to be married, but not with a big wedding!)

    All the money wasted on this one day really gets my goat, too. In my mind, wouldn't it be so much better to save all that expense and be able to spend that cash later after your married, when you'll really need it?

    Anyway, don't think you're alone on this. It seems like many of us are sick of what weddings have become. :)

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  38. This is my first time reading your blog and I LOVE this post! My husband and I did end up spending too much money on our wedding it is because we got married in the caribbean. We did this because we wanted to go somewhere special with all the people we love and make life long memories. It is probably the only time in our life we will ever have all our favorite people on vacation with us. I think weddings should be about the LOVE you and your partner share, not how big of a diamond your husband buys you. I don't have a diamond but I have a beautiful ring that fits me perfectly! Lastly, no offense, but wedding dresses are horrible now and they are still super expensive! I am all for couture or a dress that is not a wedding dress. I could continue, but I will end with saying I love your blog! Your pictues are beautiful!

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