The unexpected way wedding magazines helped me realize the wedding I want

Guest post by BlueCanary
Hello there, have you seen my heroin-addicted incestuous twin bridesmaids? I'm sitting here gazing moodily off into the future without them.
Hello there, I'm a wedding magazine bride. Have you seen my heroin-addicted incestuous twin bridesmaids? I'm just standing here gazing moodily off into the future without them.

We went into wedding planning understanding that we did not want to make a Big Fuss. We wanted simple, quick, in, out, done. Then the quick became relative, and I started reading wedding blogs and looking at Pinterest. And along came Martha…

I bought a couple of magazines for my wedding. One was a copy of Martha Stewart Weddings magazine.

That Martha mag, man — that was a little bit of the Wedding Industrial Complex reaching out and grabbing me and pulling me in. It taught me a few very important things…

Happily drowning in Martha

Like, Claire Pettibone: fucking WOW… if I had one of her dresses, I'd wear it every day. To the grocery store. And holy shit, weddings have become HUGE and COMPLICATED since I was planning my last one ten years ago. And no wonder so many young women are losing their minds and tying themselves up in knots.

I mean… $50-a-pound French candy favors wrapped with paper with a hand drawn caricature of the couple on it? Hand-calligraphed place cards that look like slices of lemon set on special glasses that look like water glasses but aren't because they're just for looks? One Martha-featured wedding had the dinner menu printed on vellum using letterpress, and then the little precious menu was wrapped around a porcelain hand-crafted twig. A fake twig. Made of porcelain. Just to hold the menu. Can you even imagine how sweet and fancy?

And my god, the ads! Bridesmaids, looking like heroin addicts with a love of formal wear who aren't sure how they came to be sitting in this tulle-draped armchair together. Are they twins? They look like twins… but the way they are embracing is vaguely sexual… they're heroin-addicted incestuous twins, covered in pink lace. Aren't they glamourous? Don't they make you want to make your girlfriends buy these dresses?

Brides, gazing moodily off into the future, tightly wrapped in handcrafted beading and ennui. The dresses were amazing and fantastical and completely unattainable for most of us. Seven thousand dollars worth of hand-embroidered beads and sequins and bird appliqués?! It's sublime, but I'd be afraid to even move in it, much less eat a canapé. Even if my kidney did have some resale value on eBay, but it does not, Ms. Pettibone, it does not.

Reading the magazine was like eating too much custard. When I was finished, I was strangely sated but slightly sick feeling. I could still taste the lingering delicious sweetness, but there was also the sense that I'd overindulged and would regret it later.

Wait, could I have a Martha wedding?

After reading Martha Stewart, I found out that a bed and breakfast down the road would do a little dinner and elopement package for us. And then I started to think I could have some awesome decorations… Like, a backdrop made of branches and twinkle lights! Floral arrangements made out of those paper map flowers! Candles and a cool vintage typewriter guestbook! And then I realized that we could invite guests. And maybe we could have someone do a little reading or something. And GASP, I could totally put a little outfit on my dog and he could walk with me… CARRYING THE RINGS! HEAD EXPLODE!

I totally started to second guess myself about the whole courthouse thing. Because we COULD afford to have a wedding. We'd have to pull it out of our retirement, but we COULD do it. My partner wants short, sweet and simple, but ultimately if he felt like having the whole experience was important to me, he'd be happy to do it.

But, do I want to? Honestly, no.

I love my family. They love me. But do I want to spend my wedding day worrying about family members fighting? And worrying about what everyone is going to eat because my brother can't have gluten, and his wife is a vegan, and Billy is diabetic. And who has the fucking typewriter?

I get that weddings are about the community, and about everyone coming together in love to celebrate love and yadda yadda. But I had that wedding already. I had that big huge everyone-packed-into-one-venue, eating rubber chicken, giving me presents, and hugging and crying experience. It was fine. And I don't want to repeat it.

So, Martha Stewart ideas aside, and awesome Offbeat Bride wedding inspiration aside… what do I really want? I want to get dressed up pretty, go to the courthouse with the man of my dreams, and get married. I want to entertain the possibility that we will share the elevator with at least one convict on our way up to the magistrate's office. I want to go out to eat after and have yummy food, but I don't want to make any decisions regarding that food other than ordering it off the menu. I want to walk around and have some pictures taken, so we have some pretty pictures to look back on later. I want to carry a bouquet of damn paper map flowers.

I want it to be just the two of us, just about the two of us, and nobody else. Anything else would be me trying to force something, or getting lost in the idea that somehow I MUST do whatever or go to “Poor Taste Hell.” It would be OUR day getting away from us and snowballing into something that we don't need, don't want, and won't enjoy as much.

Thank heavens for Martha Stewart, for making me realize that some weddings can be beautiful and huge and complicated, and that mine can be beautiful and simple and just right.

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Comments on The unexpected way wedding magazines helped me realize the wedding I want

  1. I feel ya about Claire Pettibone. I wanted her Madame Butterfly dress SO DAMNED badly until I realized even used it would cost more than our car. Oh, the agony. I’d kill for just that red sash…

  2. Oh, her dresses are so pretty! I felt the same way back when I got engaged.

    But, man, all the stupid little details that get put into weddings these days…it’s too much. Thanks to the far reaching fingers of the internet, everyone can show off the “awesome” detail they put into their wedding and show others how to emulate it. But, really, it feels like a big pssing contest. It almost makes me wish for the days when you had your wedding reception in the church basement or VFW, and it was all plastic doves and paper bells and grandma’s chicken parm. Yeah, they were all the same, but it didn’t feel so freakin’ crazy and mine-was-better-than-yours ratrace.


    Sorry, I was recently at a wedding that so much effort was put into it being “just so.” It was not fun. And in the end, not important. As you already know, it’s more about the marriage than the ceremony starting it. It’s a wedding, not a magazine spread. Those aren’t based in reality.

    • Love your comment on this! And I totally had my reception in the church basement, I decorated simply, with books. And it was fun because no one was exhausted from spending so much time on details that make you want to bang your head into the wall. LOL. Nothing wrong with the old style weddings IMO.

      • I’m totally having my reception in the VFW! I am literally trying to impress NO ONE. There will be paper bells and grandma’s BBQ chicken.

        I have specific priorities.

    • I’m being picky with details, but that’s how I am with everything, and it’s more because we want our guests to have a lot of fun more than anything. I’ve been to a ton of weddings where the bride obsessed over every little detail but none of it was done with the guests in mind, and the whole thing came across stuffy. So I’m worried about details, but all except for a couple of little ones for me (the dress, because I’m making it), the rest is things like, “will everyone have something to eat that they enjoy? Will everyone feel comfortable and be reasonably entertained? Will they leave knowing just who we are as a couple and why we’re doing this?”

    • Yeah, ultimately I just want to be married. I went cray-cray trying to have that fancypants magazine spread 10 years ago, and in the end got so caught up in the details of everything “just so” that it kinda felt like a high school play honestly. Part of what makes us want to do the courthouse thing is the frugal 40s esthetic of it…getting it done with a minimum of fuss and moving on to the rest of our lives.

  3. This is so funny, totally just cracked me up.
    I’m still in the just-engaged mad-pinning stage and I think your post just snapped me out of it lol! Simple is what I’m hoping for too. And no rubber chicken (I imagined literally hundreds of guests lining up to have rubber chickens dished on their plates).
    Fist bump for you for working out what you really want and going for it, have a great wedding 🙂

      • I’m in the middle of a management-not-in-the-office-this-week pinning *frenzy* at the moment. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t enjoying it… So much eye candy! But I am also hoping it burns out at some stage, as it’s pretty exhausting! *shifty eyes* 😛

        • It’s okay, once your overall idea of what you want for your wedding emerges, you start to look at stuff and say “It’s pretty, but we’re not doing that, so carry on” and the craziness decreases. 😉

  4. I never looked at one of the Martha wedding magazines, but I did poke around the website many times and did get some cool ideas. When I was trying to figure out what kind of cake to make, I spent a couple hours going through recipes and some awesome looking photos of cakes way past my ability, but it gave me the idea to put some flowers on the cake to make up for my lack of decorative talent with frosting.
    I really enjoyed this blog post because it really drives home that you can find inspiration anywhere.

    • I love Martha, and I’ll be the first to admit it. A Tribesmaid made the comment that Martha teaches you that “excellence is do-able” and she’s right. I’ve learned so many things from Martha over the years…and even if mine didn’t turn out as perfect as hers, I still had the guts to try to do it myself.

  5. “I want to carry a bouquet of damn paper map flowers.”

    I totally spent 8 hours this weekend making 2.5 (giant) paper flowers. 2.5! Obviously, that idea was scrapped, but I totally know how you feel about those adorable map flowers!

    • Dude…I did kusudama flowers, which was actually super easy even though I’d never done any kind of origami before. I love the look of those giant paper flowers too, and the roses made of book pages, but I fail at those. Making stuff out of paper is hard. 🙂

      • Wow! I’m really glad to know this. I think we’ll just go to the farmer’s market the morning of our wedding and get some bouquets there. It’s one more stop to make but it sounds like it will be easier.

        • We’re doing kusudama paper flowers for our wedding too, and I agree, they’re easy to make…but man, it takes MONTHS to crank out 200+ of them for centrepieces and whatnot. I love paper flower weddings, but you seriously need several months of folding time and about 1000 glue sticks. 🙂

  6. “Brides, gazing moodily off into the future, tightly wrapped in handcrafted beading and ennui.”

    Best. Line. Ever.

  7. Amen to that… I’ve been gawking at dresses for the big one recently and realised that there is no way in hell I could possibly afford the ‘start price’ for a ‘simple gown’ of £2500?!!! Seriously what planet do these people live on? My car isn’t even worth that much…

    Home made and recyclable it is… At the end of the day it should be about us getting it together and not about blowing the GDP of a small country in the process…

  8. Wonderful post. I vowed I wouldn’t spend more on a dress than my car. It turns out this is tricky when your car is a 2005 VW polo with a 1litre engine. But I managed it with some heart in your mouth, sweaty palms ordering a dress from a random website and *HOPING*.

    I am in the 70 day countdown and I was looking at our plans and thinking, we could add some favours (previously rejected), why don’t we have a car (because the wedding and reception are in the same place), should we havea strign quartet (as much as I value live music as a musician myself, my family will not care whether we play a CD or not and I will be about to pass out with nerves and won’t know where I am.)

    Thanks for this.

  9. Thank you for this post – I too am preparing for wedding number 2. Although I am having a bit more than just the two of us, I have started with the mags and feeling VERY overwhelmed by it all. It’s so easy to be drawn in! When really, at the end of the day, I just want to marry my best friend and celebrate it with my nearest and dearest. I try to explain what you have said to so many people, but you’ve done it perfectly.

  10. You said it perfectly … I got drawn into making little fabric banners with cute sayings for the reception and suddenly I’m worrying about the difference between place cards and escort cards. Who cares as long as there’s enough chairs and BBQ to eat?
    My new motto is to say no to any new DIY projects or 15 person mani-pedi parties!

  11. I’m 15 and just watching my brother and his fiance plan their wedding is driving me nuts. She thinks she’s going to handmake everything off pinterest and have a bigger, fancier wedding than her friend did last year. I’m just sitting here, talking to my mom like, “yeah, when I get married I’m going to have a nice dress and only invite my 4 brothers and their families, a couple friends, my parents, and my fiances family. And then we’re going to go camping after.”

  12. Thank you for this post. After recently deciding to scale back our wedding plans from a big 120 person gathering to an intimate 15 person (parents and siblings only) dinner. I’m so grateful to this site and other brides like you who help me find comfort in doing this the way I want to and it doesn’t have to be big and fancy but just a meaningful day for me and FH to “officially” start our lives together (never mind the 7 years of relationship, 4 years of living together and oh we just bought a house!). Now we will be official and we want to do it our way. Thanks again for this post. I don’t want a Martha Stewart wedding.

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