Inspiration Everywhere

Third Time Wife, Wedding Planning

My re-introduction to the “modern” online-inspired wedding came several months before Todd and I got engaged.

Hell, I hadn’t even decided that I wanted to get married again, yet!

But I was looking for diy outdoor lighting options that wouldn’t break the bank when I search brought up the concept of LED throwies on a site called Weddingbee. I ended up not going the way of the throwies, but I did remember the ‘bee and would check back from time to time as I started to think more and more about the prospect of having another wedding, myself.

It was a bit of an eye-opener, all the things that were popping up in wedding-world compared to what I knew of weddings in the pre-Internet planning era (aka the Dark Ages).

And, of course, as soon as we’d talked it over and decided that marriage was back on the table, I started picking up all and sundry bridal magazines I could find. I also added a wedding folder to Google Reader and subscribed to some of the major wedding blogs around.

Easily obsessed? A bit. But I think it’s okay to go through that you-mean-I-get-another-shot-at-this-party phase, especially when it’s not your first time down the aisle and you might have some tiny detail-oriented regrets about the first (or second) walk.

But it doesn’t take long, really, to start noticing patterns. Like certain sites have a penchant for the “vintage-rustic” vibe, others love the washed out photography and Anthropology-inspired compositions. Others corner the market on non-traditional with pride. And each have their place, but they pretty much cover the same bases just in different ways.

Overload sets in, and you think you’ve “seen it all.”

At this point it’s good to do two things:

  1. Step away from the wedding media
  2. Look for your inspiration elsewhere

The first one is simple: set the magazines aside, don’t open the blogs or reader folders, and don’t watch those DVR’d episodes of Say Yes to the Dress.

The second? Well, where else do you look for wedding inspiration if not in the wedding-centric magazines, blogs and shows?!

This is where having a theme can really help. If your theme is circus or carnival, rent movies on those subject, do some research into circus history, or visit one if you have the opportunity. Soak in the details and let that guide some of your decisions. Find a hobbyist-level blog or magazine to subscribe to on your theme.

If you’re working with a color scheme but no other theme, do some mind-mapping or free association of items and ideas that those colors inspire, and find the threads that you want to tug and add to the event.

For Todd and I, with wine as our theme, a subscription to Food & Wine might be a smidgen more useful than one to Brides. I picked up a wine course book when Borders was liquidating (a moment of silence, please…) and have gotten a lot of design inspiration for our invitations from the scads of wine labels throughout the book.

And, then, once you’ve had time to take a tulle-free breath, you can wade back into the wedding industry buzz, feeling a little more in control, a little less frantic, and more sure of what does and doesn’t fit your idea for your wedding.

Pretty Book and Flower Icon


Do you ever feel the need to step away from the wedding magazines? 

Not Even a Guilty Pleasure

Third Time Wife, Wedding Planning

This was originally written over a year ago, but these comments by Lena Dunham are still making the rounds in women’s lit circles. I still think the thoughts her comments spurred, however, are still important to consider.

While listening to the Fresh Air Weekend podcast, Terry Gross introduces the topic of chick lit/chick flicks as a contrast to Lena Dunham‘s main character in ‘Girls’ and to the creator herself. Dunham, while allowing that she figured writers wouldn’t appreciate such a “distillation of their thesis” of their work, and catching herself before she lambasted all chick-flicks with a pink poster, said

“It isn’t even fun to me in a guilty pleasure way…because I don’t see any of myself in it, because none of my, just none of my actions…have ever sort of been motored by the search for a husband, or wondering if I was going to have a family some day, or wanting to live in a really great house, or thinking it would be really great to have a diamond. . .There’s a kind of female character that doesn’t make sense to me.”

–Lena Dunham, on Fresh Air, 5/7/12

Wow, really? I fully admit that I had a knee-jerk reaction that bordered on offended. But it only lasted a second or three before I started to wonder about my specific reaction and the larger concept of relating–to people and ideas. Specifically those of the happily-ever-after sort.

As a genre, chick lit doesn’t get a lot of love from a lot of critics. And, yet, I find it hard to believe the books would have done so well and that people would still buy and read them if there wasn’t something relatable about the characters. After all, I read them from time to time, even when I was in my never-gonna-get-married-again phase. A phase that began before my second marriage ended and lasted through the first couple of years of my relationship with Mr. Road Trip.

You know, the guy who gave me a ring and I’m happily marrying in 535 days less than 6 months?

So… yeah. About the “I don’t see any of myself in it,” I think that maybe she’s not trying. Because it’s not necessarily about the person or the object–the carrot and the end of the string–it’s about the journey, the impetus. It’s about the wanting, that search in general, and anyone who cannot relate on that level, I kinda feel sorry for.

Even in my anti-marriage frame of mind, I still believed that there’s something somewhat pure about the dream of happily ever after. It’s one of those ideals that never goes out of style–I mean, really, who doesn’t want to find their own happiness at some point? Do people really go around looking for ways to ensure they are miserable?

Armchair psychology about self-destructive behaviors and self-sabotage notwithstanding.

It’s not about liking everything. Opinions are awesome, everyone’s got ’em, and there are plenty of things I don’t necessarily like, entertainment-wise (from the clips I’ve heard from the interview, for instance, ‘Girls’ doesn’t sound like my cup of tea, and that’s okay–I’m sure the show will do just fine without me watching it). But I can at least step outside myself, my small pocket of the world, and appreciate the larger concepts and relate that way.

Try to see beyond the end of your nose.

This blocking out of a style or idea is common in everything–it’s the downside to the natural pigeon-holing we do as human beings–even wedding-planning. Sure, it’s fun to snarkily riff on Bridezillas or My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, but I hope each bride recognizes that what drives those brides and grooms to what we see as a tire-squeal around the bend is the same thing that makes us contemplate DIY wedding flowers, punch rounded corners into every piece of wedding stationery, or the half-dozen other things we do in the name of bringing our idea and vision of our wedding day to life.

And here I am, come full circle. I went from the girl who dreamed about being married with all the trappings to a woman who wanted nothing to do with the institution ever again to the woman who’s happily engaged with her own, fledgling wedding blog. Pink background and all.

If you’re a regular reader of wedding blogs, chances are good you have no problem with the “search for the husband” idea. But if you ever did, I’d love to hear about it in the comments. And if not: share you’re favorite chick-lit read–I’m always looking for new books to add to my list!

An Open Letter to Prospective Vendors

Third Time Wife, Wedding Planning
note pad and pen

image via stock.xchng | photography by RAWKU5

Oh, where do I start?

We’re both trying to do something awesome here, but sometimes I feel like you’re making it a little too hard.

Not that wedding planning is easy. I don’t expect it to be a walk in the park, but when I’m trying to make the big decisions about where we’re going to have this big ol’ party of ours, having to search high and low, click through half a dozen tabs to find the information I need or, worse, email you for a quote only to find you only discuss these things over the phone? It makes me not want to work with you.

And let’s not even start on the emails that get no response.

I’ve seen gorgeous photos of your location, I know a wedding there could be wonderful, but if there’s no way you fit into our budget, why should we both waste our time trying to make a 16″ square cake fit onto a 16″ diameter round plate? (Hint: the edges will fall off. That’s not how we want to start our day, is it?)

Granted, I may have played coy in my request for information. Maybe it would have helped to tell you that an all-in-one location has to come in at or under $3K to work for us, or a venue-alone needs to be under $1K–I’ll work on that! But I did tell you when and how many people we’d need to accommodate. And when you start off your reply by telling me that date in 2012 is already booked (when the date I sent you was in 2013), you’re telling me that you’re not really listening.

I need to feel like you’re paying attention to me.

Yes, there’s a website url in the signature of my emails and, apparently, some folks think I might just be fishing for rates. This is the era of the plugged-in bride. Give me the benefit of the doubt and realize that I might be one of those blogger brides you’ve heard whispered about at the Bridal Shows, the ones that share the process with anyone who’s curious. I’ve admitted I’m casting a wide net–as any bride-to-be on a budget should–but this is a net (and Net) you want to be in, not escape, if you have any hope of getting my business.

If you can’t trust me at first glance, at least click on the link to see that, yes, I’m a real person planning a real wedding. Let’s talk about that, shall we?

Finally, I may ask a lot of questions if there’s something that’s unclear on your website or list two alternative plans on my RFP (request for proposal)–I’m not trying to make more work for you, we’re just trying to make your location work for us! I don’t want a cookie-cutter wedding, I don’t want to use your template, plug in our colors and menu selection and just show up on the day, I want to be involved.

An involved bride can make your job easier, if you’ll let her.

So the next time, Dear Vendors, you get a request from me or any other bride that wants more information about giving you a bunch of money for products or services, please return her email, answer her questions, and have a little faith.

Because if you don’t, you’re not likely to be on that list of great vendor reviews she gives once everything is said and done.


Miss Road Trip

What would you put in your own open letter to vendors?

CELEBrating That Third Time Around

Third Time Wife, Wedding Planning

So, Britney Spears got engaged, last week, to her boyfriend Jason Trawick. Congrats go out to the happy couple and the pop star herself as she’s made quite the recovery from a very dark time and, most would agree, has reached her thirties with plenty of awesome years ahead of her.

Do you realize that this will be her third time down the aisle? Yup.

And she’s not alone. Earlier this year several other celebrities made it official for the third time around: Sir Paul McCartney (to Nancy Shevell), Robin Williams (to Susan Schneider), Peter Fonda (to Margaret DeVogelaere) and Shannen Doherty (to Kurt Iswarienko).

A wedding...

Image courtesy of Rain Rabbit via Flickr, used under Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial 2.0

A year ago I might have rolled my eyes at each and every one of these nuptials but I’ve experienced quite the change of heart. I’ve always been in favor of celebrating any milestone you choose to, weddings being no exception, but I was also stuck in the cultural rut of one too many weddings a laughing-stock does make, and 3 seemed to be that threshold of no return.

Obviously, I now see the error of that point of view.

My first two marriages were relatively brief–not 72 days brief like Kim Kardashian and not 55 hours like Britney’s first marriage to friend Jason Alexander, but neither made it past the 3 year mark. But with age really does (or, at least, can) come wisdom and we start to weigh our decisions a little more and be slightly less impulsive. We go, perhaps, for the comfort and companionship of a true relationship over the fire and flash of a heady romance.

Not to say that Todd and I don’t share a romantic or passionate connection, it’s just not what we expect to get us through the day-to-day of life and I think that’s why we’ll last longer than my previous marriages–why we already have in some respects.

Shannen Doherty was quoted in People magazine saying “Marriage to me is such a gigantic commitment that it’s not something I’d ever go into lightly anymore. I’ve learned my lesson.” Haven’t we all?

And to Kim Kardashian, in the midst of her second divorce, if, in the future, you find your way down the aisle for the third time, know that you’ll be in some pretty good company.

Good luck to Spears and Trawick, and to anyone else planning their walk down the aisle, whatever number it is!

Pretty Book and Flower Icon


Do celebrity weddings make you think more or less
about certain trends–
be it number of nuptials or anything else?

That’s All That Matters…

Third Time Wife, Wedding Planning
Leaving a message on a mirror with lipstick

image via stock.xchng | photography by melodi2

If you read any number of wedding blogs, wedding magazines, wedding books or anything else bridal, I’m sure you’ve come across something like the following: Don’t worry about Uncle Bob’s bad dancing/the boutonnieres being wrong/the fight with your bridesmaids/etc. because, at the end of the day, as long as you end up married, that’s all that matters.

Yes and no.

If all I wanted was a signed legal document proclaiming our lives contractually linked, I could have gone down to the courthouse and had that in about 15 minutes (Florida’s 3-day wait after getting the certificate excluded).

But that’s not all that matters.

Getting married is one thing, having a wedding is a whole ‘nother thing entirely. A wedding is a tiny bit ceremony and a huge bit celebration. As the bride (and together with the groom), I’m hosting one hell of a party. And when it comes to parties? Details matter.

Uncle Bob’s bad dancing notwithstanding, those little details that you’re supposed to just blow off because they’re not important? Gee, thanks for telling me that the 6 months I spend hand-making paper flowers for bouquets, bouts and centerpieces doesn’t matter. That the menu I worked diligently on with the caterer doesn’t matter. That the friendships that have flourished or floundered over this 2 year period don’t matter.

Now, I know good and well that there comes a point in every party where you decide that certain things are good enough or other things just aren’t going to get done. And you’re okay with that because enough items on the list did get accomplished and most people aren’t going to know or notice.

In my circle we call this pressing the Fuqit! button.

But those details? They matter! Otherwise they would have been taken off the massive to-do list well before the week or day of the wedding. The end result may be the same–you and your mister are hitched–but those details make the difference between your guests merely witnessing the signing of a contract between two people and celebrating the union of two lives with all their passions and quirkiness.

So don’t dismiss your desires quite so quickly, brides and grooms of the 21st century. Know what’s important, yes. Know what’s worth fighting for (figuratively, at least). And know what’s worth letting go if it really comes down to it.

But don’t say it doesn’t matter.

 Have your say: What oft-repeated wedding phrases get under your skin?