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Miscellaneous

: Jeremy Blachman's Brand New Weblog

Thirty-Seven Posts I Haven't Written About Planning A Wedding All Combined Into One Massive Wedding-Related Brain Dump

By jeremyblachman

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After my fiancee and I got engaged, part of me hoped and expected that the act of planning a wedding would inspire a whole bunch of blog posts, and maybe even something bigger than that.  That "wedding planning" could be a thing I would end up seeing enough craziness in that I would get inspired to do something neat with the world and anonymously blog as some insane wedding planner, or a frazzled bride, or some guy who shapes buttercream icing into flowers.  To some degree, I threw a bunch of my wedding-related writing energy and inspiration into the wedding web page (click on the August archives and you'll find a link if you want to check it out), but that's so much more about poking fun at the wedding web page itself than about the actual wedding stuff.


And, really, we haven't done all that much wedding planning yet -- we have a date and venue, we've talked to some caterers, and we've e-mailed with a couple of photographers... and I investigated the price of kippot yesterday, which are cheaper than I expected they would be, since you'd think they'd be able to massively price-gouge all the Jewish people having bar mitzvahs and weddings who have no choice but to buy them -- so maybe I just haven't seen enough to figure out the right angle on it, and I have to go through the whole thing myself before I know how to channel whatever thoughts and ideas I end up with.

But I'm reading a bunch of the articles and online chat transcripts in the Washington Post's "Wedding Week" section this week (the link is to their Bridal Bargains chat; you can find the other articles from there, if you're so inclined) and I'm realizing that part of the reason I haven't blogged about this stuff is because my perspective on it -- on weddings, on planning a wedding, on the wedding industry -- is not angry enough or excited enough or passionate enough that I have a compelling-to-write point of view.

At least from the Washington Post articles, it seems like everyone with an opinion worth writing about falls into one of two camps.  They either want a crazy insane wedding where people ride in on horseback or they think the people who want that should be killed and they want to elope and tell no one.

My dream wedding would be a wedding that my fiancee is happy with, both sets of parents are happy with, our guests are pleased to have attended and don't feel burdened in any way, no one dies, no one throws away money for no reason, and we have some pretty photos to put in a book and show future generations of little people.

That's a pretty neutral kind of point of view, I think.

Which makes it harder to write about, I think.

Personally, if it were just about me, I could take or leave most of the things involved in planning a wedding that cost real money.  Because it seems really really easy for it to become more about the wedding itself than about the marriage and getting people you love and like together to celebrate it.  I could envision a wedding in some large outdoor space, with food brought in from actual restaurants that serve tasty food that doesn't die when transported somewhere, eaten on paper plates with plastic silverware, maybe a little music and some guy or girl taking pictures.

Except I say I could envision that, but then you start playing around on the Internet and realize that even if I can envision that, it's easier said than done.  People probably do have to sit for a ceremony.  So now we need a space where a wedding ceremony is allowed.  Which excludes most places that aren't already part of the wedding industrial complex.  Considering no one we know has a backyard that's quite big enough for a hundred people, or even close.  And if you want music and pictures, you need electricity.  And what if it rains.  You need a tent.  And the mechanics of food service involve tables.  And heat.  And someone to serve the food, or at least to set it up.  And someone to bring the food.  And beverages.  And ice.  And maybe some wine.  Which needs cups.  Until, magically, I realize that without escaping the realm of wedding and entering the realm of something bizarre that people will not understand as being a wedding, the logistics of a "simple wedding" mean that it probably ends up being easier and less prone to complete disaster if it's just a regular wedding, in a wedding place.  Which costs real money.

But that's all kind of an aside anyway, because of course it isn't just about me, and since clause #1 of my dream wedding description is that my fiancee needs to be happy with it, having an actual wedding recognizable to others and ourselves as a wedding and not a picnic becomes the plan.  And, back to my fairly neutral point of view, there's nothing about something that looks like a wedding that actually offends me except the money that the caterer charges.  I don't mind the idea of people dressing up nicely and some dancing and the feeling that this is an actual thing and not just a casual whatever.  It's just confusing to me how there isn't some land between picnic and "thousands of dollars on food no one will like because it's wedding food and wedding food is never any good."

Where was I going with this post?  I thought I had a rough idea in my head, but maybe I don't.  Oh, the Washington Post wedding section.  So there seems to be no room for someone, like me, who is basically happy to have the wedding that his fiancee wants, who would in a vacuum sort of like the idea of having some crazy thing that would preserve the spirit of a wedding but not involve any money or a terrible caterer but who accepts that logistically that is hard and would make everyone else whose opinions matter more than mine do feel bad about not having something that actually looks like a wedding, so in the end is basically happy with the concept of wedding and has no particular point of view other than a very strong voice in his head wanting to be careful not to impose on people we like and also kind of not wanting the food to suck, especially the dessert, since that's all anyone remembers anyway.

It's also difficult to blog about some of this stuff because if I blog about other weddings I have been to, and what I liked and didn't like about them, I have not been to so many weddings, and am not anonymous in any way at all, that I run the terrible risk of making someone feel bad for no reason.  And it's not like if I didn't like someone's cake it's really their fault, or I really care.

Wait, I've just hit on a point I think I want to make.  It's very easy to fool oneself into thinking all of the details matter.  If I go to a wedding and the food makes me want to vomit, that sucks, but I don't feel any less favorable feelings about the bride and groom.  If I'm forced to spend more on a flight and hotel to go to a wedding than I want to, that sucks, but I don't feel any less favorable feelings about the bride and groom.  Barring real bodily harm or unexpected expenditures that I am unable to make an informed choice about, I can't really blame the bride and groom, so does it really matter, when planning a wedding, to obsess about things?  I don't think I've ever heard a wedding band I *love*.  Does it matter?  I've never had a meal at a wedding that was worth positive money spent on it, yet it still cost the bride and groom a hundred bucks to give it to me.  Does it matter?  It's the cost of having something that looks like a wedding, unfortunately.

Okay, I had some other things to say while I still feel like writing about this stuff.  My fiancee's parents went to a food tasting for one of the caterers.  They loved the cake.  I was excited.  Then we found out the cake they were given at the tasting isn't from the same bakery where the wedding cake would be from.  It was a bait-and-switch cake.  This made me angry, and confused.  Why have a tasting to taste things that aren't the same things as what will be served?  What's the difference if the cake was awesome if we'd be getting a different cake?  This has been the only moment in the wedding planning process so far when I felt an emotion strong enough to want to act.  Because it didn't make any sense.  Does it make any sense?  I still don't understand it.

Also, I understand that digital cameras have made the world a better place, but it is baffling to me -- absolutely baffling -- that you can spend thousands of dollars on a photographer and not end up with any pictures.  Isn't the point of a photographer that you end up with photos, not just digital files on a web site?  It makes no sense to me at all.

Except yesterday I found a web site where you take your digital photos and can design your own wedding album online, and it looks professional, and there's photos laid out on each page and it looks really cool -- and it looks like SO MUCH FUN to do, and it's cheaper than what the photographers charge to do the albums themselves.  So now I'm sort of excited about it.

I am definitely excited for the chance to see a bunch of people I like who I haven't seen in a while and having a wedding makes the perfect excuse to get to see them.  I am excited to be married to my fiancee.  I am excited to help plan something we will both like, and our families will like, and the people who come will not feel burdened, and we will have pretty digital pictures of ourselves and the people we like that we can play with on the Internet and turn into a book of actual pictures.  I am excited to have leftover cake, assuming the cake is good.  Or to donate leftover cake to a cause of some sort, assuming the cake is not good.  

This, long and I expect not that interesting, is the end of my wedding planning brain dump weblog post.

Full post as published by Jeremy Blachman's Brand New Weblog on September 10, 2008 (boomark / email).

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